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BALANCE SHEET FOR CRAWFORD

Three Thousand Israeli Policemen Deployed To Prevent Far Right Jewish Worshipers From Praying on Jerusalem's Temple Mount

Palestinian Authority Does Nothing To Prevent Terrorists Launching Some 70 Qassam Rockets And Mortars At Israeli Settlements And IDF Positions In Gaza Strip

Temple Mount Flashpoint

The current 'cease-fire' is now facing its gravest crisis. The current flare-up follows several Palestinian violations this past week that culminated in 3 Palestinian youths being shot dead while trying to infiltrate. In Jerusalem, Israeli police have arrested 16 far right Jewish worshipers who tried to ascend the Temple Mount to pray at the site of the First and Second Biblical Temples. Hundreds of years after the destruction of the Second Temple, Muslims built the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the site and refuse to allow Jews to worship on the Temple Mount.

:: IsraCast Audio ::

Tension is running high as Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon flies to Crawford, Texas for his eleventh meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush. Over the past 24 hours, events in the Gaza Strip and on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount pose the gravest threat so far to the current ‘cease-fire’.

Terrorists Launching Qassam (archive)

Over the weekend, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip have launched some 70 Qassam rockets and mortars at Israeli settlements and military positions. So far, the IDF is not firing back. The current flare-up was triggered after Israeli troops shot at a band of 5 Palestinian youths who tried to infiltrate. Three of the infiltrators were killed, the other two fled. At first, Palestinian officials claimed the youths were playing football; privately, they now admit it was probably an attempt to smuggle in weapons from Sinai. Terrorist groups pay Palestinian teenagers hundreds of dollars for gun running from Egypt.

The latest incident follows a series of low-key Palestinian attacks over the past week in the Gaza Strip. In a number of shooting attacks, a Palestinian sniper shot and seriously wounded an Israeli worker; there have also been bombs planted and a Qassam rocket fired at the Israeli town of Sderot. After Saturday’s incident, Palestinian terrorists started shelling with mortars and home made Qassam rockets. They damaged a number of Israeli buildings but caused no casualties. The Israeli military ordered settlers to enter their bomb shelters but trying to avoid an escalation, the IDF did not fire back at the Palestinian attackers. This has infuriated the settlers who demand the IDF take off the gloves and respond in kind.

Palestinian terror groups, which were not a partner to the Cairo cease-fire, are believed behind the attacks. They have vowed to blow up the current lull in the violence. On the other hand, Israeli officials say Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has done nothing to crack down on them, let alone dismantle the other terror organizations. On the contrary, rather than Abbas asserting his control, it is the terror groups, which are now regrouping and planning for a new round of violence.

‘President Mahmoud Abbas is not delivering the goods!’ that will likely be Sharon’s message to Bush. On the other hand, the Israeli leader can say he is holding up his part of the deal. Despite his own internal opposition, Sharon is moving full steam ahead on the Gaza withdrawal; in addition, Israel handed back the Palestinian towns of Jericho and Tul Kerem with the proviso that Abbas take charge and disarm the terrorists there. This has not happened so Israel has postponed the hand-over of more towns until it does. Israel has also started releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and easing up on travel restrictions in the territories.

Then there’s the case of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. In order, to prevent a major flare-up there, no less than 3,000 Israeli policemen have been stationed to prevent Jewish worshipers from praying on the Temple Mount. The plan by the Revava ‘Ten Thousands Movement’ for large numbers of Jewish worshipers to pray there did not pan out on Sunday morning. Only some 40 or so showed up and 22 were arrested when they tried to ascend the Temple Mount. Meanwhile, Muslim worshipers at nearby Lions’ Gate stoned Israeli policemen; two were lightly injured.

Jewish opponents to Sharon’s disengagement again tied up morning rush hour traffic on Tel Aviv’s Ayalon freeway. They burned tires along the highway; Israeli police arrested thirty.

Now where is all this leading? Unless and until, Mahmoud Abbas is ready to take some of the risks that Ariel Sharon is, the Roadmap process is at a dead-end.

David Essing

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