Terror is endemic to the Middle East. The early Zionist settlers faced acts of terror, and citizens of the State of Israel have been subjected to acts of terror for the past 60 years. But what for many years had been seen as a secondary danger, as compared to the danger of aggression by neighboring Arab states, became a full-fledged threat to the state during the second intifada, when Palestinian terror reached into the heart of Israel's cities almost daily.
How to fight terror became the subject of endless discussions during that difficult time. As long as Israel seemed unable to find an effective answer to Palestinian terror, the defeatists in our ranks claimed that terror could not be defeated by force, while the more cautious argued that terror could not be defeated by the use of force alone. The implication was that Israel had no choice but to concede to at least some of the terrorists' demands - that they must be given a "political horizon."
But once the Israel Defense Forces and the security services began to seriously tackle Palestinian terror, following the massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya in the spring of 2002, it quickly became clear that terror could be defeated by force. As a matter of fact, it could be defeated only by the use of force. The terrorists view any hints of Israeli willingness to give in to a portion of their essentially limitless demands as a sign of weakness, which only serves to encourage further acts of terror.
But Israel's victory over Palestinian terror, which put an end to the daily bouts of suicide bombings, also induced amnesia in the minds of some of Israel's leaders. The lesson was quickly forgotten. The shameful unilateral withdrawal from the security zone in southern Lebanon, which served to trigger the second intifada, was acclaimed by them as a great success that brought peace to northern Israel - until the wake-up call came with the Second Lebanon War. At that point, twisted logic took over the minds of members of the Olmert government, and they acclaimed the first defeat Israel had suffered in its entire history as a defeat of Hezbollah. Maybe they will finally get some sense into their heads when they see what Hezbollah, which they claim to have defeated, is doing in Lebanon these days. What a missed opportunity!
But they forgot everything and learned nothing. Though forcefully denying that they are carrying out any negotiations with Hamas while rockets and mortar shells are falling daily on hapless Israeli citizens in the South, they have actually been proceeding, via Egyptian mediation, with talks on a cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza. Abandoning the strategy of defeating terrorism, they are now offering Hamas terrorists a respite so they can rearm, train and prepare for the next round of attacks against Israel, with the help of the Iranians.
Each round of attacks on the towns and villages of southern Israel has been greeted by completely senseless statements by our prime and defense ministers. After repetitive announcements that there is "no magic solution" to this problem, we were promised that in two and a half years, the army would install a system that would intercept Hamas missiles in flight. Then we were told that Israel would put an end to these attacks, but not right now: that a large-scale IDF operation was getting closer by the day, that there was a limit to our self-restraint.
None of this rhetoric has made any impression on Hamas, or on Israeli residents of the South. Israelis living in the areas under attack were told to be strong and get used to it. After the latest attack on Ashkelon, the defense minister declared that we must think before we act. He has had two years to think about this problem, but has still not found the answer - which is simple, even if unpleasant: The rockets have to be moved out of range of Israeli towns by the presence of Israeli ground troops in the area.
Now the Olmert government is placing its hopes on proposing a cease-fire to the terrorists. A truce with the terrorists, meaning that Israel would cease its attacks against organizations in Gaza whose leaderships are pledged to Israel's destruction, is ludicrous and self-defeating. It has not worked with Hezbollah, it will not work with Iran, and it won't work with Hamas. Until such time as Israel adopts the only strategy that works in the war against terror - attacking the terrorists until they are soundly defeated - Israel will continue to be weakened, and its citizens will continue to be casualties of terrorist acts.
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