On the morning news, in Hebrew, it sounds very dramatic: The IDF destroyed three Force 17 outposts in the Ramallah area. Listeners had no doubt: It was a reaction to the murder last Thursday of Ronen Landau, the 17-year-old from Givat Ze'ev southwest of Ramallah.
Presumably, the radio audience drew the conclusion that the punished outposts are very close to the scene of the crime, and that the forces there failed to prevent the shooters from reaching Givat Ze'ev. But that's not true. The outposts are several kilometers away on a road blocked to cars. A lot closer to the scene is Ofer camp, an IDF base.
Maybe the audience heard the phrase "Palestinian positions" and imagined well-defended bunkers that need a major military effort to destory. Really? What wasn't reported in Hebrew was that one shell flew straight into a neighborhood grocery store in North Ramallah, causing a lot of damage. A puppy dog was killed, two civilian cars were destroyed, a battery of sand bags and a few tin shacks were annihilated.
So here we are, four days later, a series of incidents in Jerusalem. Bombs that luckily didn't cause any loss of life, and stabbings. Now they're telling us that Arafat ordered an escalation of the attacks inside Jerusalem to put the city back into the conflict and to draw international intervention.
This apparently precise information about Arafat's orders is aimed at granting a sense of security to the Israeli public: Our intelligence is so good that it knows what's going on in the back rooms of the enemy.
By the way, did the stabber also get his orders directly from Arafat or his men? Or maybe he got his orders from the forces over whom Arafat has lost control, as other intelligence reports claim?
But the public feels more than secure: It feels panic. Testimony to that can be found in the reports of how two tire blowouts and an exploding can of hair spray turned into reports about terrorist incidents.
Indeed, there's no reason why the public shouldn't feel panicked. The Palestinians do want an escalation. You don't need to plant microphones or informants in Arafat's office to know that. It's enough to go to one of the hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints that are locking up 2 million people in suffocating cages and listen to the people there. For example, the roadblock between Kafr Tel and Kafr Burin, near Nablus. Armed soldiers keep elderly women holding their children's hands, and men carrying shopping baskets or an old man coming back from the hospital and a young couple carrying a baby in their arms away from the road. They're all forbidden, not even to walk two kilometers on foot along a dusty path, to reach their homes. Because the IDF decided on a "siege." Or go to another roadblock between one Hebron neighborhood and another, where the soldiers also say that there's a siege and it's forbidden to take the main road, which is for Israeli cars only.
At hundreds of such checkpoints and roadblocks, people are saying the same thing. This kind of collective punishment of children and the elderly, they say, only makes people increasingly supportive of attacks that hurt the Israelis more.
For every terrorist stopped, perhaps, at a roadblock, a dozen sprout up ready to try even harder with more sophisticated attempts to sabotage Israel and a hundred more who justify the attacks on Israeli civilians inside Israel.
The government, the Israel Defense Forces and intelligence are stubbornly repeating the mistakes of the 30 years of occupation, and that's what should frighten us all. They describe Area A of the last seven years as "under Palestinian sovereignty." They just forget to mention that Area A consists of islands sinking in a sea of Israeli control.
They called the Camp David offer, which would have carved up the Palestinian state into four enclaves, an extremely generous proposal. No wonder they're now painting the Palestinian people, under a long-lasting Israeli occupation, as an army of obedient terrorists, almost like mercenaries in their obedience to a supreme and omnipotent commander who is both illogical and irresponsible.
No wonder they call the escalation the fruit of planning and strategic thinking by a centralized Palestinian command structure. The demonstrations, the rocks, the bombs, the shooting, the stabbings and all the other forms of attacks, are all taken out of their basic sociological, historical and human context and presented only as one more link in a long chain of attacks and incitement against the Jewish people.
By bombing sand bags - and in contrast by assassinating senior Hamas leaders - the Israeli leadership is trying to persuade the public that it has a military solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, and that at the end of the day the Palestinians will learn the lesson and cease, in our language, their terrorism. In their language, their resistance to the occupation.
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