Palestinian Militants Gather Post-Disengagement Momentum

IDF Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog (Washington Institute for Near East Policy) - * In the unsettled aftermath of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank, only one camp seems clearly to know where it is heading - the militant Palestinian Islamist groups, led by Hamas. These groups now profess their intention to continue their violent campaign in and from the West Bank. * The relative calm accompanying Israeli disengagement did not arise from PA enforcement, but rather from Hamas's self-restraint. Hamas sought not to bear the blame for any interruption of the Israeli pullout and was also sensitive to the preference of most Palestinians, manifested in opinion polls, for a relative calm. * In the meantime, the militant groups are strenuously developing their armed capabilities. There are ongoing efforts to extend the range and improve the performance of rockets, as well as extensive attempts to smuggle arms and introduce rockets into the West Bank. Militant groups believe that rocket attacks could play an even greater role from the West Bank since the biggest Israeli population centers and most vital infrastructure are highly vulnerable to trajectory fire from the West Bank. * A new terror offensive from the West Bank is likely to meet an intolerant Israeli reaction. Israel is better positioned to cope with a terror threat emanating from the West Bank; in recent years it dismantled most terror infrastructure there and now has the ability to enter and exit West Bank cities at relative ease according to security needs.

2005-09-28 00:00:00

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