Saturday, February 26, 2005

Tel Aviv bombing - where to now?

Friday night, 4 people were murdered and over 50 injured at the hands of a suicide bomber as the ceasefire came to a resounding end outside Stage, a Tel Aviv nightclub Friday night. Although both Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post have also pointed the finger at Hezbollah it appears that Islamic Jihad are taking responsibility. The Times of London reports denials by both groups but the Daily Telegraph reports that a statement was issued by Islamic Jihad
"saying that it was carried out in response to other killings and the destruction of homes".
The same statement
"accused the Palestinian Authority of collaborating with Israel and the United States".
Haaretz says that a videotape filmed by the bomber carries a similar anti PA message.

In an astounding piece of investigative journalism, the New York Times opines that:
"Tulkarm is on the border of the West Bank behind a security barrier; there is speculation that Mr. Badran slipped into Israel by going around the barrier".
Either that or they climbed over. I'm speculating that if Israel were to have completed the barrier then he wouldn't have been able to go around it and that the 4 victims would be alive tonight, but what do I know about Israel's responsibility to defend it's citizens?

At the peak of the Intifada I was in the habit of checking the news immediately Shabbat was out but more recently I have got used to just checking the sports scores. I don't know what caused me to click through this evening but it's a horrifying start to the new week and leaves me, along with the rest of the country asking "what's next?"

The most measured response that I have read so far has been that of Yediot Achronot, which mentions the Ramatkal's (Chief of Staff) recent comment that "a revolution takes time.
“From the anarchy that was prevalent in the Palestinian Authority to a state of one law – this is an extreme change,” he said".
The piece goes on to point out that:
"on the one hand Israel wants to give Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas a chance....... however, it will be difficult to ignore such a severe incident...".
We find ourselves in a situation where the natural response is to go in with all guns blazing but are faced with two dilemmas: this response would certainly have the undesired effect of destroying any good will that has been painstakingly built between the two sides and would bring to an end any chance of restoring the period of relative calm which we have been enjoying. On the other hand, failure to respond also sends a mixed message and could be perceived as weakness by the terror groups, who, emboldened by their succes could then proceed to see just how far Israel could be pushed.

Any response must be measured carefully and should be pinpoint in its nature, specifically aimed at those who perpetrated this latest attack. The way in which Abbas and the PA assist in this response will be a major test as to how serious they are in combatting those who would torpedo the process.


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