Important people in Israel contend that we should not be pushing Abu Mazen to fight the terror organizations. Anyone who does push him to do so, they say, is simply thirsty for Palestinian blood. Civil wars, they argue, cause historic rifts from which many nations never recover. Interesting. Because a few of those who are fervently ruling out a civil war between the Palestinian factions have been calling of late for a civil war in Israel. It would have the potential, they have explained, to be a "positive formative event." That was the end-result of the American civil war, they know.

In the euphoric days, when they deemed Arafat a "man of peace," the newspapers used to run double spreads with the flags of Israel and Palestine. When the buses began to blow up, Arafat was not, in their opinion, to blame. It was the "terror organizations."

Then, too, members of the Israeli left would visit the rais (president), amid heavy media coverage, and ask that Arafat be given some time. While the euphoria has now gone, the request is once more being sounded to "give him some time" - and terror will end of its own accord.

Yet logic says the opposite: Arafat had control - when he wanted - over the height of the flames. And if his successor, even according to his own supporters, is not graced with the charisma and leadership of his predecessor, what are the grounds of their assessment that the results this time will be different than in the 12 years of violence that we have faced ever since approximately 40,000 terrorists and their leaders and their weapons were brought here by the Oslo government, to sow death, destruction and despair?

And since the death, destruction and despair are not ending with the "weak" Abu Mazen either, we will sooner or later be compelled to capture Gaza and Rafah, as we captured the Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria two years ago, when, the reader may recall, Sharon was forced, under public pressure, to retract his "restraint is strength" slogan. It's a shame that in the meantime, until the temporary capture of Gaza takes place, more civilians and soldiers will be harmed, as in the Judea and Samaria precedent.

One more thing will become clear, it too from the lessons of Judea and Samaria: One of the biggest reasons that it took several months - during which some 140 Israelis were killed - between the time of the Dolphinarium bombing and the time that the Israel Defense Forces went into the cities and refugee camps of Judea and Samaria, was the fear sown by the various "experts" - in uniform and not - that hundreds of soldiers would be killed in a large-scale military campaign. And then, when public opinion would not let Sharon continue to exercise self-restraint, it turned out that these fears were unwarranted.

True, there was the exception: Jenin. But it was a moral lapse there that brought about the operational bungle: Due to unnecessary limitations that it imposed upon itself, the IDF avoided use of essential munitions.

The outcome: 13 killed in one ambush, whereas the kasbah of Nablus, which the "experts" had warned would be conquered at the cost of dozens of lives, was captured without a single soldier killed. And in places where the army did not dare enter with anything less than a full brigade, all that is needed now to capture terrorists or seize armaments is a few jeeps.

The same can happen in the Gaza Strip - on condition that the lessons of Jenin are learned. The IDF can easily capture those places that are destined for trouble, and destroy the factories where the rockets and other armaments are produced. And the IDF should remain in the Gaza Strip long enough to be able to collect the weapons that Abu Mazen is duty-bound - but is unable or unwilling - to confiscate, and to arrest the main players in Hamas and Jihad, as it did in Judea and Samaria, as well as a few of the righteous members of Fatah, whose hands are soaked with blood.

Patrons of the Palestinian president should have been the first to demand that the IDF do in Beit Hanun and Khan Yunis what it did in Operation Defensive Shield in Nablus, Tul Karm, Qalqilyah, Ramallah and Hebron. And they should be demanding this not for Sderot, heaven forbid, but in order to save the presidency of Abu Mazen, because after the IDF crushes his opponents and withdraws - and no one in Israel wants the army to remain there - the Palestinian president will be able to stabilize his rule and, in keeping with the dreams of those who continue to believe in the honorable intentions of him and the rest of the Palestinians, become Israel's "partner for peace."