One Day the Palestinians Will Learn Their Lesson

The Shin Bet once more deserves a score of 10 out of 10.

The Shin Bet once more deserves a score of 10 out of 10.

Not only did the security service successfully carry off the assassination of a senior member of Hamas' military arm, it also proved that it has information that sounds reliable and that provides details on all the terror attacks in which Ayman Khaliwa was involved. Khaliwa was killed on Monday in an explosion that occurred in his car in downtown Nablus.

The Shin Bet has proven that, despite all the efforts of the Palestinian Authority to hunt down collaborators, the Israeli internal security service is continuing to use them with all the skill that this agency has accumulated over several decades. Only last Thursday, the Shin Bet assassinated Atef Abayat and his two bodyguards. The three died in an explosion that occurred in the car in which they were sitting.

Obviously, these eliminations will deter other terrorist experts and other armed Palestinians or they will sever the chain of expertise in the preparation of explosive devices, although all the previous eliminations have failed to attain that goal.

The Israel Defense Forces also deserves a score of 10 out of 10. It is no simple matter to maneuver dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers into the narrow streets of Bethlehem - between the churches and the mosques, the clinics and the schools - and to leave these vehicles in that town for days upon days. The last time that such a maneuver was made in the past three decades was in Lebanon, not on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip - a five minutes' drive from Kfar Sava, a two minutes' drive from the south Jerusalem neighborhood of Talpiot, and a one-minute drive from the Jewish settlement of Beit El.

Nor is it a simple matter to send hundreds of 19- and 20-year-old soldiers armed with submachine-guns and sniper rifles to rooftop positions in residential neighborhoods - whose inhabitants include thousands of elderly people, women and children - and to then see to it that Palestinian terrorists - whose protection consists of their kaffiyeh, black masks and jeans - do not injure or kill the soldiers with their light and medium weapons, that they do not throw Molotov cocktails at IDF positions and that they do not roll natural gas cylinders toward the tanks in which the soldiers are traveling.

Things could have been done differently, as indicated by an offhand remark that was made by one of the IDF commanders in Bethlehem in a conversation with interviewer Razi Barka'i: "Look, we didn't evacuate them (the Palestinian residents)."

Proof of the high score that should be given to the IDF for the combat skills of its troops and for the precautionary measures and protective means it employs can be seen in the following statistics: Since last Thursday, seven Israeli soldiers have been wounded, one seriously and the others lightly, as opposed to 26 Palestinians - 16 of whom were civilians - who were killed by Israeli gunfire. The dead Palestinians included four women, one little girl and two youths below the age of 16.

It should be recalled here that the IDF is still going on with the routine activities it has been carrying out throughout the past 12 months: Enforcement of the internal closure on and encirclement of all Palestinian communities. Here is another reason why the IDF deserves such a high score.

The IDF must continue to see to it that all of the earth ramparts that prevent vehicles from entering or leaving any Palestinian community remain in place; that the trenches that have been dug not be refilled with earth; that the huge concrete blocks not be moved; that 2 million Palestinians continue to go by foot to work, to school, and to the clinic; that fruits and vegetables and fresh milk continue to be transferred via the "back to back" method - from vehicle to vehicle, alongside the earth ramparts and without "any funny business."

A high grade should also be given to the educational network of both the IDF and the State of Israel: The skill displayed by 19-year-old soldiers as they impose a curfew on a civilian population clearly demonstrates that they are convinced that, through these actions, they are protecting their compatriots and their country. Some of these soldiers still have to overcome - so they have testified - feelings of awkwardness, when faced by the children who peep out at them from the window.

However, those soldiers with the awkward feelings - like their comrades who are not bothered by what their eyes see - are confident in the knowledge that this is the way to hunt down murderers, to thwart terrorist attacks and to prevent Palestinian police officers from shooting at Israeli troops. That is why the soldiers - even those with the awkward feelings - not only confiscate the car keys of "wayward" drivers who violate the curfew but also instruct the passengers of taxis to get out of the vehicle and finish their journey by foot. If doubt gnaws at some of these Israeli soldiers, at least they know that they are complying with an order that must be obeyed.

And another high grade should be extended to the bulldozers of both the IDF and the Jerusalem municipality. The IDF bulldozers yesterday demolished homes in Rafah where terrorists are hiding - terrorists who have not learned the lesson they should have drawn from the demolition of the dozens of homes of other Palestinian refugees over the past few months. The Jerusalem municipality's bulldozers tore down the homes that had built on the site of Jerusalem's planned eastern ring road.

Another bulldozer yesterday morning demolished the home of the family of the suicide-bomber who carried out the terrorist attack at Tel Aviv's Dolphinarium. Future suicide-bombers will certainly be deterred by this form of punitive measure, although it has not deterred their predecessors for the past 33 years.

All of these scores should be sent directly to the Prime Minister's Office, which is continuing to demand the extradition to Israel of the murderers of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi. Naturally, all of the above activities are the correct, proven, logical way to persuade PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and the commanders of his security agencies that they must learn the lesson of South Lebanon and that they must obey all Israeli orders.

These activities will persuade the Palestinian people as well that this is the correct way of life for them; thus, the Palestinian people will realize that they must stop resisting and they will stop regarding the Israeli presence on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip as an occupation force.