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Terrorism In Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

IDF & Shabak Track Down & Kill Three Palestinian Terrorists Who Shot Dead Israeli Settler In Drive-by Shooting On West Bank

Shabak Security Chief Diskin: 'Today There Are Two Palestinian Peoples - One In Judea & Samaria (West Bank), The Other In Gaza!'

'Hard Core Of Several Dozen Jewish Terrorists Could Attack Israel's Political Leaders If Government Decides To Evacuate Settlements'

 It took Israeli security forces just over twenty-four hours to track down and kill three Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli settler Meir Avshalom Hai on the West Bank Thursday night. Acting on intelligence from the Shabak Secret Service, two IDF units located the terrorists holed up in three separate buildings in the town of Nablus. They were called upon to surrender and when they refused, the soldiers stormed the buildings. One of the three, was discovered in a secret hiding place with two M-16 automatic rifles and ammunition. Analyst David Essing assesses the latest developments that come against the backdrop of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange for hundreds of Palestinian terrorists and some rare comments made by Shabak chief Yuval Diskin.

 West Bank - Thursday night: After weeks of relative quiet, Palestinian terrorists riddled an Israeli car murdering driver Meir Avshalom Hai, its sole occupant. Israeli security forces launched a manhunt for the killers in what was apparently a drive-by killing. In recent months, the Israel Defense Forces rounded up what was thought to be most Palestinian terrorists, while the Palestinian Authority forces, with American training, had also been clamping down on Hamas operatives. However, this week's terror attack indicates that there are still active terror cells on the West Bank. All three terrorists killed in Nablus had previously served time in Israeli prisons: one had even personally obligated not to continue in terror activities in return for being removed from Israel's wanted list. The deadly Palestinian attack and the subsequent Israeli killing of the killers has obviously raised tension on the West Bank and illustrates Israel's dilemma when it comes to releasing hundreds of more terrorists in return for captured IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit who has been held by Hamas for over three years. Despite the facts of the case, the Palestinian governor of Nablus has called a general strike in the town accusing Israel of killing the terrorists 'in cold blood'! It also raises raises the question of whether the swift tracking down of the killers will satisfy many Israeli residents on the West Bank who charged that the Netanyahu government has gone soft on fighting Palestinian terrorism. They point the lifting of roadblocks and checkpoints that make it easier for terrorist operations as well as the ten month building freeze at settlements. So will the Palestinian attack lead to Israeli settlers seeking to avenge the murder as part of the 'price-tag' policy toward terrorists. In this case, the Palestinian terrorists were not part of Hamas but part of the Fatah organization of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Shabak Security Chief Yuval Diskin

Shabak Security Chief Diskin: A hard-core that numbers several dozens of Jewish terrorists could strike at Israel's political leaders, if the government decides to start evacuating West Bank communities - that's the assessment of Shabak chief Avi Diskin. Overall, Diskin estimated that one-thousand Israelis favoured terrorism. He was addressing some three-hundred listeners at what was supposed to have been a closed-door gathering at Tel Aviv University. However, the daily Yisrael Hayom has disclosed some of his rare remarks in public. It was not the first time that Diskin has warned of such an internal threat by Jewish terrorists. However the fact that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been accused by the far right of 'betraying' the settlement cause lends urgency to his warning. The head of the Shabak Secret Service (previously known as Shin Bet) also disclosed that he was giving a high priority to monitoring Jewish terrorism. One such suspect, Yaacov 'Jack' Tietel, who immigrated from the U.S., is now awaiting trial on charges of murdering two Arabs and planting a bomb that lightly injured Israeli professor Ze'ev Sternhell at his Jerusalem home. And now the Palestinian drive-by murder of Meir Avshalom Hai, an Israeli resident on the West Bank, has aroused more rage by settlers in Judea & Samaria. This week's murder of the the Jewish resident could further escalate the 'price-tag' tactics by Israeli terrorists who try and make Palestinians pay not only for their terrorist attacks but also for Israeli government decisions, which they view as harming the settlement movement in Judea & Samaria. One such step was the torching of a West Bank mosque after the disclosure that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had devised a sophisticated operation deploying Air Force helicopters over the West Bank for spotting any violations to the settlement freeze.

On the other hand, Left-wingers can contend that the arson at the mosque could have triggered the revenge killing of the Israeli settler. So tempers are flaring, and if anything, Yuval Diskin has his work cut out for him in the days ahead. Moreover, if and when Israel releases hundreds of Palestinian terrorists, some of them hard core killers, this could spark a new round of terrorist attacks on Israelis. Apparently this is the key reason why Diskin is opposed to releasing some of the killers that Hamas demands be released in exchange for IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit. It is an excruciating decision for the cabinet and primarily for Netanyahu if the Shabak has warned that such and such a number of Israeli civilians will be murdered and maimed in the future by some of the released terrorists. This has been the result of previous terrorist releases and it will be the Prime Minister who will face this ultimate responsibility. But nearly everything has its price and polls indicate that most Israelis are ready for what Barak defines as 'an appropriate and possible' deal for Shalit. Even IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, who like Diskin will have to cope with a sudden influx of terrorists, has called it a 'national mission' to bring Shalit home. But the proverbial buck stops with Netanyahu - he will likely have the final say on what is a calculated risk and in the country's best interest. However an Israeli Prime Minister is unlikely to accept Hamas demands that will lead to scores of Israelis being massacred as a result of the prisoner exchange.

Several other points should be considered in order to appreciate the depth of the dilemma now facing Israel's decision makers. Unlike most other armies in the world, the Israel Defense Forces are comprised of conscripts and is mandatory for Jewish youngsters from age eighteen except for the ultra-orthodox males 'heredim' - every year some 5,500 are exempted. Some 37% of all females are exempted on religious grounds. A smaller number are rejected for physical or mental unsuitability. Arab citizens are not obligated by law to serve in the IDF, while some do so on a voluntary basis. One in about four IDF male soldiers fight in actual combat units while the others serve in support branches. Ultimately, this means that a small minority of Israeli soldiers and their families bear the brunt of the ultimate sacrifice in defending their country which is in a continual war of one kind or another. So it should not be only a sentimental and worthy desire to bring a POW back home - Israeli youngsters and their families must also know and be reassured that the country will not only give them tea and sympathy if something goes wrong, like being wounded and taken prisoner, and that Israel will pay the price of even risking the lives of other citizens, even women and children, in order to bring Gilad home. Hamas knows of the importance that Israel attaches to redeeming its soldiers and will squeeze the Jewish state for all it can until it is convinced that Israeli leaders mean it when they declare: 'This we will not do!' And obviously Hamas is eager to bask in the victory celebrations and showing the Palestinians that it and not West Bank President Mahmoud Abbas is their real leader. Over the years, Israel has imprisoned more than another 10,000 Palestinians on terror- related charges and the release of hundreds of prisoners for one IDF soldier is likely to encourage fresh kidnapping attempts.

Two Palestinian Peoples: After the election victory by Hamas in January 2006, and its bloody coup in Gaza against Abbas in June 2007, there are now two Palestinian peoples - Diskin said that one resides in Gaza and the other in the West Bank. The implication is even if peace negotiations get underway, President Abbas will represent only one - half of the Palestinians whereas the other half continues its military buildup for another round of fighting against Israel. And what of the Israeli Arabs who identify with the Palestinians? Diskin said Israeli Arabs have maintained a low profile in not supporting terrorism but if the Jerusalem issue flares up they would find their way to the Hamas camp. Therefore, in his opinion it was necessary to find a solution to Jerusalem which Israel views as its undivided capital while Abbas demands that eastern Jerusalem become the capital of the Palestinian state.

David Essing

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