|Beyond Images - Briefing 14
||Perspectives on the Arab-Israeli Conflict
FAILURE TO CURB TERROR: Three examples
|London - published Friday 23 August 2002
"The Palestinians have not been given the chance
to curb terror. Israel should give them the chance to
stop the militant groups attacking Israeli targets".
Summary of Response
The Palestinian Authority has repeatedly either failed
to act against terrorists, or released them from custody,
only to carry out atrocities shortly afterwards. We set
out three examples below - Hamas's leading bomb "engineer";
the bomber of Jerusalem's King George Street, and the
bomber of the Park Hotel on Passover. Israel has paid
very dearly for expecting the PA to act decisively against
terror, and confidence can only be restored in a step-by-step
Israel has paid dearly for expecting the Palestinian
security forces to act decisively against terror
For over 18 months, from the outbreak of
the crisis in October 2000 until April 2002, Israel looked
to the Palestinian Authority to prevent the activities of
terrorists planning atrocities against Israeli citizens.
Over and over again, the Palestinians failed
to act, leaving Israel with no choice but to act directly,
firstly in Operation Defensive Shield (April 2002), and then
in Operation Determined Path (June 2002 onwards).
Here are three cases (taken from reports
in the Jerusalem Post newspaper) which illustrate why Israel
cannot be expected to rely on the Palestinians to act to protect
Muhammed Taher - Hamas master bomb-maker given freedom
to operate by the Palestinian Authority
26 year old Muhammed Taher was a leading
bomb-maker in Hamas. Having been involved in a series of Jerusalem
suicide bombings in 1997, he was arrested by the Palestinian
Authority ("PA") in June 1998, at a time of regular
Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation.
In October 2000 the PA released him as
part of a general release of the most dangerous Hamas and
Islamic Jihad members at the start of the second Palestinian
Since then, according to Israel, Taher
has been involved in planning some of the worst suicide attacks
in Israel including the Dolphinarium disco bombing (Tel-Aviv,
June 2001) - 19 dead; the Haifa bus bomb (December 2001) -
16 dead; and the Gilo bus bomb (Jerusalem, June 2002) - 19
Over 140 Israeli citizens have died in
terrorist attacks which Israel alleges were masterminded by
Taher since his release in October 2000.
Taher is also alleged to have trained bomb-makers
in assembling bomb-belts. He taught his "students"
how to place screws, nails and pieces of metal inside suicide
bomb belts to ensure maximum agony for the Israeli victims.
Taher was finally caught by Israeli forces
in June 2002 near Nablus. When Israeli forces surrounded his
hide-out, he resisted arrest, he and lieutenants started firing
at Israeli forces, and he was killed in the resulting exchange.
Needless to say, the Palestinian Authority
knew how dangerous Taher was to Israel, but took no steps
to curb his activities. Their decision to release him in October
2000 makes them directly responsible for the trail of carnage
which he caused.
Muhammed Hashaika - the suicide bomber of Jerusalem's
King George Street
Muhammed Hashaika, a 22 year old former
Palestinian policeman from a village near Nablus, was known
to both Israeli and Palestinian security officials.
He was a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs'
Brigade, which is directly linked to the Fatah movement, and
was one of dozens of Palestinians whom Israel asked the PA
to arrest in January 2002.
When the Palestinian Authority arrested
him at that time, he was found with a suicide bomb belt in
his possession, and stated that he planned to carry out a
bomb attack on the Ra'anana shopping mall, north of Tel-Aviv.
After some weeks in custody, Palestinian
security officials transferred him to Ramallah. Despite an
assurance given by the PA to Israel that they would continue
to hold him in custody, he was released in March 2002 as part
of a so-called "general amnesty" of Palestinian
A week later, on March 21 2002, Muhammed
Wearing a suicide bomb belt packed with
nails and metal shards, he walked onto Jerusalem's King George
Street, the main shopping street in the city, and blew himself
up, killing three Israelis and wounding 80.
The release by the Palestinians of Hashaika
broke a commitment to Israel and led directly to the attack
Abdel-Bassat Odeh - the Passover night suicide bomber
In February 2002 Israeli forces became
seriously concerned about the plans of a 25 year old Palestinian,
Abdel-Bassat Odeh, from a Palestinian refugee camp outside
Tulkarem. It was feared that he was planning a suicide attack.
Shin Bet, the Israeli security service,
gave his name to the Palestinian Authority in around early
March, and demanded his immediate arrest.
No action was taken by the Palestinian
Authority against Odeh during the following weeks.
On March 27, Odeh walked into the Park
Hotel in Netanya and blew up 30 Israelis who were taking part
in the traditional Passover evening festive meal.
Israel regards the Palestinian Authority
as being responsible for that massacre, as it had failed to
act to prevent the killer, even when warned by Israel that
he was planning an atrocity.
Conclusions: the lessons from these events
The failures of the Palestinian Authority
to act in the cases of Muhammed Taher, Muhammed Hashaika and
Abdel-Bassat Odeh are not isolated failures, but reflect the
continued Palestinian support and complicity in acts of extreme
terror against Israeli civilians.
These three cases demonstrate that while
the Palestinians have the means to curb the terror, they lack
the political will to do so. This is despite the fact that
the terror campaign has achieved nothing for their people
but misery and the intensification of their plight.
Israel's military operations in the West
Bank since April 2002 have to be seen against the background
of such events.
Israel cannot afford to entrust the security
of its citizens to Palestinian security forces which have
demonstrated they are unwilling and unable to safeguard that
security. Confidence can only be restored in a step-by-step
Hardly surprisingly, Israel has been left
with no choice at present but to take direct responsibility
for quelling the terrorism originating from the West Bank
and Gaza Strip.