The Palestinian Intifada: Lessons and Prospects (Part II)

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog - The outbreak of Palestinian violence in late September 2000 peaked in March 2002, a month during which 135 Israelis were killed and over 700 wounded. Lethal attacks occurred almost daily, and Israelis lost their sense of personal and national security. In response, the Israeli government adopted two strategic decisions designed to halt the deteriorating situation: first, to implement large-scale and continuous offensive measures to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure inside Palestinian cities and refugee camps, an effort that evolved into "Operation Defensive Shield"; and second, to take the defensive step of constructing a physical barrier - the West Bank fence - to block the free passage of terrorists into Israel. After long internal deliberation, Israel concluded that its campaign against terrorism would be best served if the "political" leadership of such groups as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad no longer enjoyed immunity from retaliation. The Israeli mindset evolved from dealing solely with suicide bombers to dealing with the producers and launchers of these "ticking bombs." It took Israel more than three years to reach the decision to eliminate Yassin and Rantisi. The result of these actions was a considerable weakening of Hamas. Since March 2002, Israel has managed to reduce the number of terrorist attacks as well as the number of its fatalities by about 70%. There is still no shortage of Palestinian young people willing to volunteer for suicide bombings. Their motivation emanates primarily from the deteriorating political and socioeconomic situation and from extremist indoctrination, which continues unabated and h

2004-10-15 00:00:00

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