The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, April 30, 2002  

Assassination Campaign to Continue Indefinitely

"The Israeli military said yesterday that it could remain in Hebron for several days to search for an estimated 300 suspected Islamic terrorists, despite U.S. opposition to the incursion, which killed nine Palestinians and wounded about 20," reports the Philadelphia Inquirer today.

And despite the recent deal to free Yasir Arafat, a development expected to come to fruition later this week, "Israel's military operations in the West Bank appeared far from over," the Inquirer reports.

"We are only in the beginning of the mission," said Col. Moshe Hager Lau, deputy field commander of the Israeli forces that pushed into the Palestinian sections of Hebron, in reference to Israel's month-long incursion into Palestinian territories. "We will continue until we finish off the list of all those that we want." [Ed.: Emphasis added.]

"Finish off the list"?

What exactly is going on in Hebron and elsewhere on the West Bank? A military operation or an assassination campaign?

We remember a time when this strategy was characterized by the term "Death Squads," as in "Right-Wing Salvadoran Death Squads" and "Right-Wing Guatemalan Death Squads."

We cannot help but wonder why the term has yet to be applied to the Israeli Defense Force.

At least the IDF appears to be targeting the right people for assassination, putting aside for a moment the fall-out on innocent Palestinian civilians. "Abdulaziz Rantiesie, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said one of the men the Israelis killed in Hebron, Tarek al-Dufashi, was a mastermind of Saturday's attack on Adora," according to the Inquirer.

The U.S. State Department has expressed its opposition to the Israeli move into Hebron and has called on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "to complete the withdrawals of Israeli troops from all of the Palestinian-ruled areas of the West Bank that they had assaulted," the paper reports.

Once again, however, American foreign policy concerns are ignored. We suppose praise is in order for President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell. They have shown remarkable patience and restraint as Sharon flaunts his campaign of destruction and assissination across the West Bank, wreaking havoc on the Palestinian Authority's already tenuous civil and political infrastructure and killing hundreds of Palestinians in the process. Meanwhile a recession looms in the region, a prospect that has Israel asking the U.S. Congress for still more money to fund its malfunctioning socialist economy and military complex.

Praise for patience goes to U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan, as Israel, "the only democracy in the Middle East," keeps his fact-finding team at bay with an ever-increasing list of demands, including, as of today, that Israel select which soldiers would be interviewed the the U.N. team, should they ever be allowed to approached the village of Jenin.

Patience, however, is not always a virtue, a fact that Sharon, Bush, and Annan would do well to remember. The ferocious assault on the West Bank, which we have learned has only just begun, cannot continue indefinitely, and yet an unending campaign appears to be Israeli policy. This misguided, dangerous, and yes, immoral, strategy already has eroded Israel's standing in this country, ill-will the country cannot afford at this critical time.

The clock is ticking, gentlemen.

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