Israel suffered a terrorist attack this morning when a young Arab blew himself up in a bakery in Eilat. Three Israelis were killed and two critically wounded. This was the first such bombing in a long time, and the first ever in this southern resort town. It is believed that the bomber, who is from Gaza and a member of Al Aksa Brigades, intended to attack in a more heavily populated location; however, when people in the area became suspicious and called the police, he went into the bakery and set off his bombs.
Islamic Jihad and Al-Aksa Brigades (of Fatah) have claimed joint responsibility, along with an unknown group. Islamic Jihad issued a statement saying that the bombing "underscores the Palestinian resistance’s intention to pursue Jihad (holy war) until all Palestinian lands are liberated." I hasten to remind everyone that "all Palestinian lands" means everything from the Jordan to the Sea.
While there was some talk of his having come out of Jordan (which the Jordanians vociferously denied), consensus among Israeli security personnel — including Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter — is that he came from Gaza, via Egypt (the Sinai), most likely through a tunnel into Egypt and then from Egypt into the Negev via one of several existing breaks in the security fence.
There is concern about the possibility of the terrorist having been assisted from inside of Israel. It is known that he was driven to the outskirts of Eilat.
Let’s step back just a moment and look at what’s going on here.
On January 11, Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily reported on assistance being provided to Fatah by the US — with Israeli blessings — in order to strengthen Abbas against Hamas. First there were 7,000 assault rifles with one million rounds of ammunition. Abu Yousuf, from Abbas’s Force 17 security forces, told WND that the bulk of the arms would be used to "hit the Zionists." Then there was the announcement of $86 million to go to Force 17 and other security forces. But, explained WND, many of the members of Force 17 also belong to Al Aksa Brigades.
A mere six days later, Klein reported on the fact that US funds, arms and training were to be provided for a "unified" PA security force that would incorporate members of Al Aksa Brigades.
Now, what do we have? The first suicide bombing in eight months, with Al Aksa Brigades claiming at least partial responsibility. And, Klein has come up with another interview. This one is with Abu Ahmed, leader of the Brigades in the north of Gaza. Says Abu Ahmed, today’s attack "reflects the position of Fatah that the occupation must be fought whenever and wherever possible." Abbas didn’t have anything to do with the attack, he explains, but "we are loyal to him….we are proud to be a part of a movement [Fatah] which has a heroic leadership respected around the world." Abu Ahmed said something else as well: that it was Al Aksa Brigades that trained the bomber, aided his infiltration into Israel, and provided the explosives.
It should be noted that a Fatah spokesman, Ahmad Abdul Rahman, condemned the bombing today. But, says Abu Ahmed, "…we are aware of our president’s [Abbas’s] declarations, but we are also aware of the international political system that brings the president to adopt this position."
Does everyone have the picture, here?
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) says he hopes this attack will "bring sanity back to all those who call for…strengthening Abbas."
MK Yisrael Katz (Likud) has called for a halt to the transfer of arms to Fatah: “The government is permitting the flow of arms to (Fatah strongman) Mohammad Dahlan and his associates instead of dismantling the terror infrastructure.”
Defense Minister Peretz has now called for an end to IDF "restraint," and ordered preparations for an IDF operation inside of Gaza against terrorist infrastructure.
This is good but long overdue. And "preparations" are a long way from executing the operation. He should truly mean it and not be grandstanding for political purposes. (Shocking! that I might suspect this.) He should truly mean it and hold fast when the left starts to talk about how this will weaken Abbas.
According to YNet, sources within the defense establishment are predicting that in spite of Peretz’s strong words it will not be a major operation that is launched because of "the sensitive diplomatic situation and the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip." Ceasefire???? Is this a joke?
There is talk that the operation might be against infiltration routes. This is fine, but is not the same as operating against "terrorist infrastructure." Getting the routes leaves the terrorists and their weapons in tact.
It’s not an encouraging sign that Miri Eisen, spokesperson for Olmert, has made a statement that Israel did not yet have formal confirmation of who was responsible, and so it was "premature" to discuss any possible Israeli reaction to the attack.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in a press conference, "Israel has shown extraordinary restraint in order to give the Palestinians an opportunity to fight terror and stop the attacks. Unfortunately the Palestinians failed to stop them…the Israeli government will decide upon the necessary steps."
This statement reflects a reprehensible pattern. The Israeli political echelon wants to come across as the good guys in the eyes of the international community. It has been as clear as clear could be that there has been no effort on the part of the Palestinians to fight terror. As terrorist planning and strengthening were going on, there should have a pre-emptive attack inside of Gaza (which is precisely what the IDF strongly recommended) that just might have saved three lives. But we might have been criticized for this. Better let the three die first to give additional justification for a strong stance.
The violence in the Palestinian areas continues, with at least 34 dead now.
YNet, however, reports that in the course of all of this secret talks between Hamas and Fatah have been going on, with progress reported. Abbas has said that if a unity gov’t cannot be agreed upon by the end of the week, he will move towards advancing elections. How many times now has he recycled this threat?
The commentaries and discussions with regard to President Katsav continue unabated. What is assumed in all quarters is that his days in office are numbered, and so there is now intense jockeying among the candidates seeking to assume the position.
No one wants this more than Shimon Peres (Kadima), who was mighty mortified the last time around when he lost to Katsav. Having been burned once, he’s being cautious. Quite simply, he doesn’t want to run unless he can be sure of a win. Peres supporters have advanced what is being called the "Peres bill," which would change the rules for voting in the Knesset for the president to an open ballot. The logic is that when votes are exposed, coalition discipline would be adhered to and fewer people would cast maverick ballots. Kadima MK Yoel Hasson initiated the bill, and Olmert has lobbied heavily for it.
This bill passed in the ministerial committee on legislation, but is due for a big — and fully justified — defeat in the Knesset.
Although a member of Kadima, Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit opposed the bill because it means a politicization of the presidency. Allow me to share what he
said about this:
"If we were in the opposition and we supported Peres and the coalition’s candidate was Caligula’s horse, in an open vote, Caligula’s horse would win and not Peres."
Avigdor Yitzhaki also opposed the bill even though a member of Kadima and the coalition chairman, saying he doesn’t see how it could pass without a magician. He further infuriated Kadima members by supporting Peres’s key opponent, Reuven Rivlin (Likud). They charged Yitzhaki with hurting Olmert by supporting a man for the presidency who could oppose peace overtures to the Palestinians. Complained Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze’ev Boim, "Supporting Rivlin doesn’t help Kadima at a time when Likud is trying to entice Kadima MKs to come back."
All this lack of party discipline in Kadima. All this expressed sense of being overwhelmed by Likud. I love it! It suggests good things to come, may all the former Likudniks in Kadima return to Likud without delay.
(Don’t ever say that I never post anything amusing.)
As to the presidency: Reuven Rivlin is the most decent of men, and indeed might well oppose overtures to the Palestinians. Peres, for all he’s done to damage the country with his misguided "peace" policies and backroom deviousness, doesn’t deserve to be elected dog catcher in my humble opinion. Channel two reported yesterday that Peres sent messengers to MK Colette Avital (Labor) and tried, without success, to persuade her to withdraw from the presidential race.
This posting can be found at: https://arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2007/1/29/posted-january-29-2007.html