Israel: April 16, 2002


: 10.0pt"> Despite pressure from the United States and the visit by the U.S. Secretary of State, Israel has refused to halt its military operations in the Palestinian territories. Israeli troops and police continue to arrest terrorist suspects and capture terrorist equipment and workshops. Israel says it will withdraw from all Palestinian territory within a week, except for two towns. They will stay in Ramallah, surrounding Yasser Arafat in his headquarters, until Arafat agrees to go into exile and surrenders terrorism suspects trapped with him. Israel will also stay in Bethlehem, where some 200 Palestinian police and terrorism suspects are holding out in the Church of the Nativity. So far, Israel has arrested nearly 400 men already wanted for terrorist activity, and taken into custody nearly 4,000 others on suspicion of terrorist activity. Documents and interrogation has greatly increased Israeli knowledge of how terrorist organizations operate in the Palestine areas.

Decades of dealing with Arab terrorists and UN peacekeepers has left Israel unwilling to allow foreigners into Israel as part of any peace deal. The UN peacekeepers have long tended to favor the Arabs. For example, terrorists would nearly always try to launch rockets or fire mortars from populated areas. This was common in south Lebanon during the years of Israeli occupation. As accurate as the Israeli radar (for spotting incoming shells) was, if the Israelis missed the terrorist mortars by too much, the UN would declare that the Israelis were "targeting civilians." The Arabs tended to get the benefit of the doubt, which often meant accusing the Israelis of  attacking innocent civilians. Currently, Hizbollah is firing rockers and mortars from Lebanese villages at Israeli positions in the Shebaa farms region, and Israel returns fire on the outskirts of the village to avoid more war crimes accusations. As long as the Hizbollah attacks are ineffective, it seems a reasonable approach. These attacks have been occurring daily for the last week. Hizbollah, not the Lebanese army, controls southern Lebanon. But only the Shebaa farms area (claimed by Syria and Lebanon) is attacked. Israel has warned Syria that if Hizbollah expands its attacks, Israel will attack Syrian troops in Lebanon. No Arab nation wants to fight the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). Not just because the Israelis have won every war they fought with the Arabs, but also because the IDF advantage over Arab armed forces has been growing over the last decade.


Large scale public demonstrations against Israel continue in most Arab cities. The primary goal of most Middle Eastern governments is to use the crises in Israel to deflect criticism from their own populations. Even the oil producing nations are having economic problems and realize that any kind of economic campaign against the US would hurt the Arab nations the most. These guys have also figured out that it's easier, cheaper and safer to attack Israel with terrorists. Thus the eagerness to support the terrorists with money and weapons. This, is an ancient tactic, especially in the Middle East. It's why Iraq plays host to an Iranian rebel organization. Even the threat of that sort of thing will get an enemy to the bargaining table.


Each of the major Arab nations has it's own reasons for not going to war with Israel. Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel, and is still having problems with it's own local Islamic terrorists. War with Israel would be economically disastrous. Besides, there's not that much enthusiasm for supporting the Palestinians. Syria is in bad shape economically (no oil) and current totalitarian government has a shaky hold on power. Lebanon is still trying to recover from the 1975-90 civil war and wish the Syrian army and Hizbollah militants would just go away. The Lebanese army is in no condition to attack anyone. Jordan also has a treaty with Israel and fought its own war with the Palestinians in the 1970s. After being on the wrong side of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Jordan doesn't want to have to choose sides again. Iran and  Iraq both need the oil revenue just to stay afloat. Neither nation cares about the Palestinians and hate each other more than they hate Israel. Any anti-Israel rhetoric you hear from these two is mostly for show.






Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close