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One IDF Officer Killed By Hizballah Bomb Blast On Northern Frontier; Attack Triggers Two Hour Exchange Of Fire

Violence Is Viewed In Israel As Attempt By Pro-Iranian Geurillas To Sabotage Palestinian Elections

Sharon Sources: 'The PM Realizes That President Abbas Cannot Be Expected To Come Up With A Quick Fix For Halting All Terrorism, But Sharon Expects Abbas To Show He Means Business'

President Abbas

While Palestinians were going quietly to the polls on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Hizballah gunmen from Lebanon set off a road side bomb which killed one IDF officer. It was the second deadly terrorist attack in fourty-eight hours. On Friday, Palestinian terrorists exploited the IDF's let-up in offensive operations during the election period and ambushed an Israeli car killing another IDF soldier. David Essing says theses attacks highlight the situation that new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will have to confront.

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians were going quietly to the polls to elect a new President to replace the late Yasser Arafat. In the north, Hizballah guerillas armed by Iran and Syria went on the offensive sending a signal to the Palestinians.

:: IsraCast Audio ::
Capt. Sharon Almakias

It was around noon local time. An IDF convoy drives slowly on its way near the cease-fire line with Syria to Israeli positions in the Mount Dov area. Suddenly a large road side bomb blows up; it destroys an armoured jeep killing an army captain. IDF artillery, tanks and aircraft retaliate, almost immediately, pounding Hizballah positions in the region. The guerillas return fire sparking a two hour exchange before the border region is again quiet. A French observer, serving with the UN peace monitors UNFIL, was reportedly killed in the crossfire.The IDF withdrew from all of Lebanon in May 2000, a fact verified by the U.N. However, Hizballah rejects the U.N. position and claims the Mount Dov region belongs to Lebanon and not Syria and has turned the area into a flashpoint for launching attacks against IDF forces there.The timing of the incident on the day of the Palestinian election is not coincidental. Hizballah, which is controlled by Iran, most likely received orders form Tehran to heat up the frontier as a message to the Palestinians. In other words, the terrorists were signaling the Palestinian voters that presidential frontrunner Mahmoud Abbas is taking the wrong way. Abbas argues that the Palestinians must halt the four years of violence and bloodshed because it has harmed their cause.On Friday, another IDF soldier was killed and three others were wounded when on leave and driving in a civilian car on the West Bank. In this case, Palestinian terrorists exploited the IDF let-up in offensive operations due to the Palestinian election. Two terrorists, disguised in IDF uniforms, stood by the side of the road and sprayed the vehicle with machine guns. They got away and the Al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades later claimed credit.The two deadly attacks highlight the situation facing Mahmoud Abbas.Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said privately that he realizes that once in office, President Abbas cannot be expected to come up with a quick fix for the terrorism. However, the Prime Minister also says Abbas must start taking action; for example, moving some of his 30,000 Palestinian security personnel in the Gaza Strip, to take control of the areas from where the terrorists launch Qassam rockets at Israeli targets.

As for Iran and Hizballah, today they are deeply immersed in organizing Palestinian attacks in the territories as well as training and funding the terrorists.

President Mahmoud Abbas clearly has a rough road ahead of him; once Abbas takes office, Israel and not just Sharon, will be expecting not just words but also deeds if peace talks are to go anywhere. It will not be enough for him to say he is against terrorism and violence, when he dons the mantle of power, Abbas will no longer enjoy the luxury of simply being a commentator.

David Essing

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