Three immediate explanations were forthcoming after Monday's suicide car bomb attack on the bus at Karkur Junction that killed 14 people. The separation fence is not yet built and some curfews were lifted; the terrorist infrastructure is being rebuilt very quickly; the Palestinian Authority and its security apparatus are not doing anything to counter the terrorists.
These explanations always come after a terrorist attack, and the number of days of quiet and the number of aborted attacks are also counted. The quiet was achieved, says the defense establishment, because of IDF operations in Palestinian cities, refugee camps and villages. The more stringently the curfew is applied in the West Bank, the more quiet there will be in Israel. Then comes the next attack, with all its horror, and the explanations, and the steps that will be taken in response, aimed at returning the quiet and subduing the fear. But there's no justification for subduing fear if one examines the reality as the Palestinians experience it.
True, the seam line hasn't been beefed up with "a separation fence" that will include concrete walls, a wide security strip full of barbed wire, deep channels and scout trails. But the IDF continues its pedantic siege of every Palestinian city, town or village in the West bank, with no easing or reduction in pressure.
Checkpoints, ambushes, steel gates that close cities, patrols, road razing, and reconstruction of every obstacle that is taken down, are the routine in the territories. There's no access to water, pupils don't get to school or are late, schoolbooks don't reach villages, the chronically ill are hospitalized in critical condition because the closure prevents medicines from being renewed in time, or because impoverished families have to buy fewer medicines.
The paralyzed civil life is testimony to the efficacy of the closure on the entire population, but not against those who have decided to blow up and kill Israeli civilians. After all, they have to pass through several checkpoints and obstacles before reaching the "open seam line."
Indeed, the reservoir of those ready to commit suicide is filling up again. The Islamic organizations may plan their attacks in the context of a religious-political "strategy," but the new recruits were not born suicidal and don't need to be recruited. They volunteer.
Therefore, we should not delude ourselves into thinking that the "rebuilding of the infrastructure" is a "technical" process resulting from renewed contact between cut-off villages due to "easing conditions" or that it eradicates the "murderousness" inherent in all Palestinians.
True, the Palestinian communities are cut off from one another, but the radio and TV and press bring the Palestinians detailed descriptions of what is happening in every isolated area - how an Israeli tank shell killed Shimaa'a Abu Shamala, a Rafah girl, and her neighbor, Salma Abu Jezeer, 27; how settlers burned an olive grove east of Ramallah; how a couple had to climb up and down trenches to get married; the growing numbers of anemic children who have had their diets cut by their unemployed parents unable to pay for more or better food.
The "volunteers" for suicide missions live that reality and feel they represent the entire public in its helpless impotence and fury. Shimon Peres yesterday reprimanded the Palestinian Authority for not taking action against the terrorist plotters. Maybe he and others expect Palestinian policemen, who are unemployed, to join the IDF, which effectively controls the entire territory, and point out the hiding places of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad men.
Neither the Palestinian police nor the society in which they live would agree to that. In Gaza, too, where the IDF controls the population centers from around them, instead of inside, the Palestinian security forces aren't chasing after every cell that fires Qassam rockets. The senior officers in the Palestinian security forces explain that when every week the IDF kills (they say murder) Palestinian civilians in Khan Yunis and Rafah, they can't use policing methods and arrests against the Islamic activists.
Senior Fatah commanders are saying this. And they are from the social and political stratum that despises Hamas with all its soul, because they regard the Hamas as vying for the leadership in the struggle, as working for years to topple the PA, as taking orders from foreigners hostile to the PLO, and as playing into Israel's hands. When they say they can't act against the Hamas, you have to listen to them - for security reasons.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which do not politically represent the majority of the population, are convinced that the majority of the population supports them and sees their activities only as reactions to the ruthless occupation.
The Palestinian security forces, based on the Islamicists' rival movement, Fatah, would risk what's left of their tattered prestige and their chance to rule in the future, if they were to operate as IDF proxies, and are shown no political future leading to Palestinian independence.
Thus, using military measures to paralyze civil Palestinian life continues to achieve the exact opposite of its purpose from the Israeli security perspective.