December 5, 2001 | WebMemo on Middle East
Israel launched the most wide-ranging attack on Palestinian areas in 14 months of conflict, killing at least two Palestinians and injuring scores. The air attacks came in response to weekend bombings and shooting attacks on Israelis by Islamic militants that killed 26 people and wounded nearly 200.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government said it was sending a stern warning to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat that there would be even harsher reprisals if he did not crack down on militants who have been attacking Israelis.
"A war has been forced upon us a war of terror," Sharon said.
Heritage's Jim Phillips says the Palestinian terrorism has destroyed any hope for peace, adding:
"Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon hit the nail on the head when he pointed to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as being responsible for the horrific string of bombing attacks in Israel. Arafat has never fulfilled his obligations under the 1993 Oslo Agreement to systematically and permanently clamp down on terrorism and the organizations that engage in it. In fact, members of Arafat's police force have been caught red-handed engaging in terrorist attacks against Israelis.
"Arafat also has created an environment in which terrorists flourish. He has praised suicide bombers as "martyrs", repeatedly has called for a jihad to liberate Jerusalem, and continues to educate Palestinian children to hate Israelis. Ideas have consequences.
"Arafat is now reaping what he has sown. Although Arafat has rounded up a few low-level Hamas members to deflect international pressure on him to abide by his Oslo commitments, this is too little too late.
"Israel is entirely within its rights to strike hard against terrorist organizations and the Palestinian Authority, which continues to give sanctuary and support to Islamic extremist organizations such as Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad. Arafat has lost all credibility as a negotiating partner for Israel. Israel now is settling in for a long period of conflict that will only end if a new generation of Palestinian leaders comes to the conclusion that terrorism can not gain them a Palestinian state or improve the lives of the Palestinian people. There is little that the United States can do to rescue the Palestinians from their flawed leaders as long as they continue down the road of violence."
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