Israel Should Not Respond Militarily to Attacks — Yet

Thursday, 24 Mar 2011 08:39 AM

By Tawfik Hamid

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The recent Palestinian terror acts against Israeli civilians raises troubling questions, particularly about the timing of the attacks.

On March 23, a bomb blast in a cowardly terrorist attack in Jerusalem killed one and injured more than 20 other Israeli civilians. The bomb, which was packed with more than a kilogram of explosives and shrapnel, was left on the sidewalk near the city's central bus station and might have been trigged by remote control. One woman who was critically injured in the blast later died, according to reports.

On March 19, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired more than 50 rockets into Israel. This was considered the heaviest barrage in two years, Israeli officials said.

On March 12, a terrorist infiltrated the West Bank settlement of Itamar, southeast of Nablus, early Saturday and brutally stabbed five family members to death. The shocking attack occurred around 1 a.m. The terrorist entered the family home and murdered three children including an infant, along with their parents. The victims were apparently sleeping as the killer came in.

These terror attacks that occurred after a period of relative calm are likely to be attempts by the Palestinian terror groups to divert the attention of the recent Arab revolutions to the Palestinian cause as many of these revolutions did not put the Palestinian issue on their priority list.

On some occasions, as the Friday prayer by Sheikh Youssef Al-Quaradawi in Tahreer square in Cairo, the Palestinian issue was mentioned; however, it was certainly not the central theme.

It is likely that the Palestinian jihadist groups attacked Israel on this occasion in an attempt to force Israel to respond in a strong military manner that would provoke widespread Arab anger against Israel.

The objective would be to bring back attention to the Palestinians and unite the revolutions under a common cause against the Jews and Israel.

It was wise that Israel was not lured into this direction as an attack on Gaza or the West Bank would play into the radicals' agenda. Military retaliation is certainly warranted; however, the Israeli government's declaration of its intention to build new settlements was a more measured, painful approach.

The "they-kill, we-build" strategy could be a bigger deterrent.

Palestinian provocation is merely an attempt to provoke military retaliation from Israel to bring back the Palestinian issue to the forefront of Arab affairs since it had been largely overshadowed by recent revolutionary events across the Middle East and North Africa.

The Israeli government must show restraint to avoid feeding into the agenda of the radicals. That does not mean Israel should remain silent.

So what can be done?
  1. Delay the military response for some time. An immediate military action can work for the benefit of the agenda of the Palestinian radicals by diverting the anger in the Arab street and uniting it against Israel.
  2. Declare that Israel will respond with crushing military might, if necessary, if the radical groups persist.
  3. State that a new settlement will be built in response to every attack that occurred on Israeli civilians. Ideally, Israel also should declare that some of these new settlements will be named after the names of the victims of terror to honor them.





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