Analysis / Danger of a spark
If extremists from the Revava organization and others manage to break into the Temple Mount today, it will end the calm between Israel and the Palestinian terror organizations, according to the worrisome assessment now occupying all branches of Israel's security services.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the assessment says, may then resume operations against Israeli targets, joined by Hezbollah, and we will find ourselves on a military slippery slope. The Palestinians are preparing for such an outbreak.
Meanwhile, without direct reference to the Temple Mount, two political conclusions arise from the events in the Gaza Strip over the weekend: Hamas is getting stronger, while Palestinian Authority security forces are getting weaker, and the weakness of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is conspicuous.
Abu Mazen's weakness is also revealed in the attitude of the American administration toward him. Despite their general support and sympathy for him personally, he has been told he should defer his visit to Washington until he has something serious to say to President George W. Bush.
Although the firing of mortars at Gush Katif over the weekend was carried out mainly by Islamic Jihad, Hamas, the largest opposition organization, took responsibility for it yesterday. Even the Qassam rocket shot several days ago at Sderot seems to have been fired by Islamic Jihad, but strangely, it was of the Nasser 3 type, known to be manufactured by Hamas.
The situation on the Temple Mount is clear: Jewish extremists are spoiling for a provocation, seeking a blow-out that may delay Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank.
On the other hand, the circumstances of the killing of three young Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip near the Hardon military outpost are less than completely clear. The outbreak of violence there does demonstrate the fragility of the situation. At the same time, Hamas leaders are speaking more clearly of the need to take a political and not only a military road, with Hezbollah lessening its pressure to carry out actions against Israel, according to Israeli assessments. Meanwhile, some in Fatah are concerned over the unstable condition of the organization with elections in the Palestinian Authority in the offing.
These individuals say the outbreak of violence would be a good reason to put off elections, which will reveal just how weak Fatah is and how much support Hamas has on the Palestinian street. Add to this mixture the extreme right in Israel, which looks for any opportunity to ignite the military spark that will delay disengagement.