Contrast and compare the situations of Israel and the United States. Both are attempting to use their military forces to defeat terrorism.
Israel's military must protect a territory that is much smaller than
the USA and its population is more uniform. They spend a far greater
proportion of their GDP on the military than the US does. They have
shown few restraints in using military force (tanks, F-16s, missiles, helicopter
gunships, heavy machine guns) against suspected terrorists.
They have killed over 800 Palestinians (mostly civilians and many children)
in the past year. They know where the terrorists live and they have
occupied their territory for over 30 years. Al Qaeda is in Afghaistan,
Europe, Canada, the United States, Lybia, Somolia and elsewhere.
Israel's Shin Bet security service has had much more success in penetrating
Hamas and Islamic Jihad than the CIA has had against Al Qaeda.
Israel's military forces are by far the best armed, smartest, best trained,
and highest motivated of any in their part of the world (even if you don't
consider their nuclear weapons). They have applying their military
to the task of containing terrorism for over 50 years and the situation
is worse today than it ever was. No one has ever accused the Israelis
of being pacifists and yet the attached article says that terrorism cannot
be defeated by military force.
I offer the following article in Ha'aretz the Israeli newspaper from those with the most experience on how best to "end" terrorism...perhaps violence is not only not best, but not even effective ???
And even if violence is needed there really is a difference in thinking and acting like a law enforcement official, and a General. If the goal is the least lose of innocent life, and all policies and actions have to be able to pass the "we are all brothers and sisters in a real and meaningful sense" test, this distinction between law and war must be controlling !!!
Give peace a chance !!! Shalom.
If you share my sentiments please forward far and wide. Thanks.
While increasing numbers of Palestinian militants view terror as their solution, Israeli security officials are growing increasingly candid about the absence of a military solution to terror.
Briefing reporters yesterday in Tel Aviv, a senior security officer shed the diplomatic wrapping which his colleagues ordinarily use to describe the situation in the territories. "All of the anti-terror measures which we've implemented during the past year can be compared figuratively to trying to empty the sea by using a spoon," he admitted, in one disarmingly frank moment.
The official, who has 30 years of experience fighting terror under his belt, then proceeded to prick and pop the bubbles of hot-air cliches which politicians adore.
"When you look at the general picture," he said, these anti-terror measures are "just drops in the ocean. We're talking about an entire terror infrastructure located on Palestinian Authority territory, about a large network for the production and smuggling of weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. It is clear to all of us that there is no military solution to terror. Nowhere in the world have such situations been solved via military action. You can reduce terror; but you certainly can't eliminate it."
After 15 months of violence in the territories, at a moment of relative quiet, Israeli security officials are stepping out of the situation to make interim assessments. With the help of the army, the Shin Bet security service has in recent weeks notched up a highly impressive series of successes on the anti-terror front. Its efforts have led to arrests of hundreds of terrorists, and physical blows to (or the deaths of) major suspects.
Nonetheless, some 400 "heavy" terrorists (members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and also Fatah and the Popular Front and Democratic Front groups) are still at large, operating out of the Gaza Strip. These are men whose sole preoccupation is to harm Israelis. A similar number of terrorists roam the West Bank. And for each "military" operative (meaning those who bear arms, assemble bombs, or plan violent strikes), there are several others who act on a logistical and political level.
Both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, conventional definitions and classifications of militant nationalist fighters have become blurred or irrelevant. The highest echelons of a number of organizations, some of which have not been associated with armed activity in the past, are now galvanizing forces for strikes against Israel. Top officials from the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus are involved in terror attacks.
Non-Islamic organizations do not today shun suicide strike activity. A Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operative blew himself up in a military jeep on the Gaza border. Fatah men help suicide strikers infiltrate Israel, and help lay bombs against targets located within the Green Line; sometimes the Fatah men themselves perpetrate gunfire attacks in the heart of Israeli cities, knowing that they won't be alive when the smoke clears.
Israel has no "textbook solution" for this quagmire. Briefings with reporters expose disagreements in the security system, differences of opinion which separate the various branches of the system from one another, and which divide officials within the same particular branch.
"Is it that he [Yasser Arafat] doesn't want to do the job, or is it that he can't do the job?" one security official wondered aloud. "What stops the PA Chairman from carrying out his pledges to war against terror?"
Such questions vex Israeli officials. No consensus has emerged in response to them.
"The PA Chairman is a survivor," says one security official. "Most of his energy is invested in his efforts to keep afloat. He doesn't have the ability to make tough decisions. As time passes, his hands are tied by public opinion, as the public's hatred of Israel is steadily on the rise. I am very pessimistic about Arafat; I don't think that he will change his stripes. And there are places on the West Bank where Arafat would not be able to impose his authority, even were he to decide to [crack down on terror].
"Despite the tremendous pressure which has been exerted on Arafat," the official concludes, "he won't assent to the demands, since they entail engaging Hamas in a civil war."
In the same briefing, a second security official, of comparable rank and experience, propounded a different thesis about Arafat. The PA chairman's current lack of authority derives from a deliberate policy decision, the official asserted. Arafat, he continued, has the wherewithal to transform the situation, should he desire to do so.
"True," this official explains, "there are some non-governable islands in the territories, like areas in the Rafah refugee camp, or neighborhoods in Khan Yunis. But if Arafat decides to shoot persons [who oppose a cease-fire policy], he'll gain control. The question is whether he's willing to pay the price."
Ultimately, this Israeli security official claims: "There's no real challenge to Arafat's authority. He is the leader. Despite its new-found strength, Hamas still does not perceive itself as an alternative to Arafat's rule. Right now, not all of the power and authority possessed by the PA leadership is being exploited .... Arafat has an interest in the continuation of attacks against us. The attacks keep the Palestinian issue alive in terms of international public opinion. In their absence, within a week's time it won't interest anyone."
Though assessments and predictions touted by Israel's security officials differ in tone and content, there is one common denominator uniting all of the discussion. The overall picture is bleak.
The pessimists draw sustenance from an abundance of new data. Israeli security officials say that Hezbollah fingerprints are found increasingly in the territories. They talk about one of Arafat's guards, a graduate of Shin Bet and CIA training courses, who rigged up bombs in an effort to attack the IDF chief of staff's convoy. They allude to an Islamic Jihad terror cell which planned to blow up a truck containing a quarter ton of explosives next to a bus packed with Israeli soldiers. And they say that Hamas has "top caliber bomb-makers," whose expertise is starting to rival that of counterparts in modern armies.
Professional know-how comes to the terrorist groups from outside sources, from engineering faculties on campuses in Arab capitals, from Hezbollah, even from Afghanistan. Hamas is spiking bombs by adding nitroglycerin and other dangerous chemical compounds; and it is planning synchronized terror attacks (Mahmud Abu-Hanud was plotting such simultaneous attacks when he was killed).
For the first time, Islamic Jihad is improving the quality of its explosives; the recent strike against the bus in Wadi Ara exemplified this weapons upgrade. All of the militant organizations, especially Hamas, are attracted by the scenario of assassinating leading Israeli figures, and perpetrating devastating attacks that "will change the rules of the game."
Israeli security officials agree about one other matter: Up to now, they say, PA counter-terror efforts have been "one big show." Anti-terror declarations have yet to translate into concrete action on the ground, they charge. By keeping terror suspects locked up in secret PA detention cells, the Palestinian leadership is doing no more than delaying terror strikes. The PA is doing nothing substantive to eliminate the attacks completely, say the Israeli officials.
Similarly, "selective" Israeli strikes, i.e. assassinations, and also arrests and interrogation of suspects, are far from perfect. "Each time we've caught a terror suspect," one Israeli security official admits, "a new one has arisen to take his place."
"Assassinating one man will not eliminate Hamas," says one Shin Bet official. "It's an illusion" to imagine that assassinations offer a comprehensive solution to terror, he adds.
Speaking yesterday to the "Herzliya Conference" for national security matters, former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon, added a moral element to this critique of the assassinations policy. Instead of delivering definitive conclusions, Ayalon raised a number of questions and provided food for thought. Addressing an audience of security professionals, who typically speak in one, unified voice, Ayalon articulated a fresh perspective, speaking in a different, skeptical voice.
Referring to the assassinations issue, the former Shin Bet head said: "There's no moral dilemma about killing someone whose death will save the lives of dozens of civilians. But there should be strikes against someone who dreams about killing you, or wants to kill you. Killing should be used as a method only when there's no way of arresting [a suspect]. "You cannot "kill ideologies by killing leaders," Ayalon continued.
"It's easy to prove that under circumstances of negotiations and political
hope and expectation, selective killing of a terrorist will lead some away
from the terror side, and bring them to the discussion sphere. But when
there is no political expectation [of a peace agreement], assassinations
do the opposite. Terrorists turn into suicide strikers. The time it takes
for a man to turn himself into a suicide striker is shortened - what once
took months, takes a few hours. The situation is in the politicians' hands.
They have to understand the way it is."