MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Only a few days ago I wrote that the Palestinian-Israeli truce is fragile, and that many give it less than 6 months. Those estimates may have been too optimistic. On Friday, February 25, a suicide bomber exploded himself outside a Tel Aviv discotheque.
This bombing may not mean the end of the truce, but if others follow shortly, it will be difficult to maintain any semblance of "peace process" and the disengagement plan of Ariel Sharon may become politically impractical. Given that there were almost daily reports of Palestinian violations, and that the IDF had prevented at least one suicide bombing during the "truce," Friday's bombing was almost inevitable. The reaction on both sides is much different than it was in the past. Israel is not blaming the Palestinian Authority for direct complicity. Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas and Palestinian officials condemned the bombing in the strongest terms and called it sabotage. Evidently, Israel will give the Palestinian authority a chance to prove itself before taking retaliatory steps. That is not to say that the bombing didn't accomplish part of its purpose already, which was to put spikes in the wheels of the peace process. Israel announced that it was delaying handover of cities to the Palestinian authority. That decision may be justified and necessary, but it was exactly the sort of thing the bombers hoped to accomplish. The bombing was carried out by people claiming to be members of the Islamic Jihad according to the "suicide note" film left by the bomber, Abdullah Badran, and released by the Damascus branch of the Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad in Gaza denied any connection with the bombing and blamed it on Hizbollah, as did the Palestinian authority. A member of Damascus Islamic Jihad called an AP correspondent in Beirut and said:
The BBC noted:
The BBC report stopped just short of relating the history of all of Israeli-Syrian relations with the exception of the key relevant points: Damascus Islamic Jihad had not only taken responsibility, but there was a videotaped confession of the bomber. Not only Israel, but the Palestinians too blamed outside interference. A suicide attack had taken place, but BBC and Reuters were more interested in the possibility of Israeli retaliation and the focus of the blame than on the actual attack.
The difference in Israeli and Palestinian reactions from those of the Arafat era is gratifying however, and gives hope for peace. Israelis did not, for the most part, blame the Palestine Authority. Palestinian PM Abbas spoke out unequivocally against the terror attack, calling it "sabotage," and began taking actions as well as words to catch the perpetrators and prevent further attacks:
Some results followed in fact, with the arrest of several associates of Badran's who may have been
That attitude is slowly starting to change, but it is not clear if the emphasis should be on "change" or "slowly." Palestine Media Center, the official Palestinian media outlet, reported the event according to the old rules:
The PMC article continues:
But it was not the Israelis, but rather the Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority who were blaming the Hizbollah. Israel was blaming Syria.
The polemics were not confined to Palestinians and their supporters in the media. The Jerusalem Post thundered that the bombing was all the fault of the Palestinian Authority, ignoring the fact that Tulkarm is under Israeli security supervision, and the right-wing >Hatzofeh fulminated :
"Here are the facts. The Palestinians perpetrated the racist mass-murder in the heart of Tel Aviv. The organization that perpetrated [the attack] was a Palestinian organization, [and] the murder was Palestinian. But we, with the idiocy that characterizes the Sharon government, are accusing Syria. Why? Because this enables us to continue to shut our eyes and continue with the stupid and wicked policy of expelling the Jews from Gush Katif."
The Palestinian and Israeli leadership seem to have a new program for a new era, but their media supporters haven't gotten with the program yet.
A second bomber is still free as I write these words.
Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000336.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to email@example.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.
Replies: 13 comments
I am not happy with this article because it depressed me, I think it is weell written though
Posted by polls @ 02/26/2005 05:29 PM CST
Who is truly responsible for this crime?
Posted by polls @ 02/26/2005 05:32 PM CST
I think it was very predictable that there would be some "ultra-extreme" element that would attempt to undermine any kind of meaningful progress toward peace, and that some attacks of this nature would continue. The real issues of course are how many there are, how much support the perpetrators receive, and how much effort the Palestinians make toward hunting down the culprits.
Posted by Graham Lester @ 02/26/2005 06:14 PM CST
Could the Palestinians say Hezbollah did the attack in effort to deflect attention from themselves.
Posted by Butros Dahu @ 02/27/2005 09:32 PM CST
Also something else from BBC:
But most parties seemed to be trying to protect the truce agreed by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at a recent summit in Egypt.
Overnight, the Israeli army raided a West Bank village. Palestinians say five people were arrested, including the brothers of the alleged bomber.
However, Israeli officials suggested there were no plans for a large-scale military operation.
"The Israeli response will be punctual and will be concerned with the elements directly responsible for carrying out the attack," Israeli army radio quoted a senior defence official as saying.
But Israel is pressing for tougher action from Mr Abbas, declaring that his strategy of negotiating with the Palestinian armed groups is not good enough.
The main Palestinian factions have not officially signed up to the ceasefire. But they have been observing an informal truce and their leaderships in the occupied territories denied any link to the attack.
However, reports quoted some Islamic Jihad officials claiming responsibility for the bombing.
That could suggest a split in the movement between its inside leadership, based in Gaza, and its outside leadership based in Syria, which is said to have more influence over Jihad cells in the West Bank.
Earlier in the day, Palestinian security officials said the bomber might have been recruited by Hezbollah, the Lebanese Islamic movement that has long been accused of funding militant cells in the West Bank.
Hezbollah "unequivocally" denied the charge, calling it "a campaign of incitement led by the Hebrew state". Israel has been trying to convince the European Union to label the movement a terrorist group.
Mr Abbas said an unnamed "third party" was behind the bombing, possibly referring to Hezbollah.
On the other hand, it is convenient, and not unusual, for Palestinian officials to blame outside forces for Palestinian attacks - Yasser Arafat did it often.
Whoever was behind the attack, it is clear the Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire is fragile.
Much depends on whether this is an isolated incident or a concerted attempt to sabotage Mr Abbas' strategy of ending violence and renewing political negotiations.
Posted by Butros Dahu @ 02/27/2005 09:42 PM CST
To Butros Dahu: Islamic Jihad IN DAMASCUS claimed responsibility for the attack. So why does it surprise you that Israel blames Syria? If Syria would arrest the Islamic Jihad leaders in Damascus and hand them over to Israel or the PA they would show they indeed support peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as it claims it does. But instead Syria says Israel itself might have carried out the attack... I would say, if you like to lie, do it at least in a halfway credible way....
Posted by Ratna Pelle @ 02/28/2005 10:12 AM CST
Butros: It was evident that Siria was going to do something to cover Hariri affair and change the focus to Israel-Palestine conflict. I thought Hezbollah would shell Galilee but they choose something more indirect and nefarious such as kill teenagers. I come back to my mantra : Israel must sign the peace with palestinians to be able of handling Siria as the murderous and dangerous enemy that it is.
Posted by Aleph @ 02/28/2005 12:18 PM CST
hey can i get more information on your refugee camp...
Posted by simone kohlmeister @ 02/28/2005 03:02 PM CST
To Aleph and Ratna:
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Israel has also blamed Damascus, saying leaders of Islamic Jihad in Syria ordered the attack. Syria has denied responsibility.
The Palestinians at first blamed Hezbollah, which has denied any role.
Abbas has only referred to a "third party" he believes is opposed to his peacemaking with Israel.
"There may be other parties who want to destabilize the situation," Abbas told the Independent.
Friday's suicide bombing shattered a truce agreed by Abbas and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at a February 8 summit in Egypt.
Posted by Butros Dahu @ 02/28/2005 06:13 PM CST
This is funny I thought the Palestinians said Hezbollah did the attacks now one person denies they said that:
RAMALLAH, West Bank -- The Palestinian Authority Sunday criticized an Israeli decision to freeze plans to hand over West Bank towns because of a Tel Aviv suicide attack.
Posted by Butros Dahu @ 02/28/2005 11:20 PM CST
Butros : Siria es playing a very dangerous game trying to keep Lebanon as a client state and trying to force Israel to give back Golan using non-conventional weapons (terrorism). Siria must understand that the times have changed and it is no more posible to use armed pseudo-independent groups as tools of foreign policy. The EU will be not able of stoping the americans if Siria insists in embarking themselves in problems. All the countries have dreams but they must not follow them beyond reasonable specially by violent means. Lebanon people is increasingly hostile to Siria and it must be acknoeledged. Siria has tried to destroy Israel and Israel have not any reason to give back Golan. Siria must pursue its pacific insertion in international community (even without Lebanon and Golan) because Iran is not USSR and his umbrella is very thin.
Posted by Aleph @ 03/01/2005 05:17 PM CST
Ok, we all condemn the bombing. It is detrimental to both the Israelis and the Palestinians and I don't see why the Palestinians would officially sanction this form of resistance. That said, what about the continued land confiscation, brutal occupation and the economic strangulation that Israel inflicts on the Palestinian people. How many more farmers must be separated from their lands before Israel starts to realize that they are creating the next generation of resistance fighters. It is ironic that so many in the peace camp can question the Palestinians commitment to peace yet they are blinded to the true crimes that are committed on a daily basis by Israel. Five wonderful and sacred human beings died in the Tel Aviv bombings. It was a quick and undeserved death. But millions of Palestinians are dying a slow death at the hands of the Israeli military. Can any of you imagine living in your ancestral homeland and being subjected to check points, daily humiliation and land confiscation by people who recently arrived to the Holy Land? I will never forget the day an Israeli soldier, in broken Hebrew, called my cousin an "Arab Dog." Why can this Russian have the right to proclaim a son of the Holy Land a "dog"? Until we can all live as equal citizens in the ancient land of Palestine, the conflict will rage on. This was never just about land, it is about ethics, dignity and morality. You can't steal from people and expect them to love you. You cannot proclaim you want peace while building more settlements on lands that do not belong to you. You cannot wreck the infrastructure of a nation and then act surprised when they cannot stop a crazed bomber. Everyone in Palestine and Israel knows the solution. The West Bank, Gaza and E. Jerusalem will be Palestine and the remaining 77% of historical Palestine will be Israel. When the Israelis finally reach the conclusion that the Palestinians have compromised enough, will their be a real and genuine peace. Until then, it is just more of the same rhetoric.
Posted by Amin @ 03/01/2005 06:31 PM CST
To Butros Dahu: the border between the Golan Heights and Syria has been relativery quiet because Syria knows what are the consequences of attacking Israel directly, and therefore it's doing it in an indirect way. If Syria genuinely wants peace with Israel it could show this by dismantling the headquarters of Islamic Jihad and Hamas on it's territory and stop the antisemitic incitement (for example TV movies based on the Protocolls of the Elders of Zion). I think Israel would be willing to enter serious peace negotiations in that case. BTW Hezbollah, that was blamed for the attack by Abbas, is also supported by Syria.
To Amin: if the Palestinians had compromised enough in the past, as you claim, they would have had a state since 1947 on 45% of the territory of Mandatory Palestine. But Palestinians (and all other Arab states) rejected Jewish self determination out of hand, even if it would have been on the size of land of a postage stamp. Only after the first Intifada the PLO officially accepted Israel's right to exist and peace negotiations could start. During these negotiations however, both parties didn't recognize the other side really as Israel went on building settlements and the Palestinians went on calling terrorists 'hero's of the resistence' and demanded right of return of the millions of Palestinian refugees, which would mean an end to Israel being a Jewish state. These same mistakes seem to be made again now, as Ami Isseroff explains in the previous weblog.
Posted by Ratna Pelle @ 03/03/2005 10:56 AM CST
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