Sunday, July 31, 2005

Even Giving The Palestinians
What They Want Is Hard

Israel is giving the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians, so that they can govern themselves. This is what the Palestinians have been asking for for years.

So, how do they respond? Well, the second leading Palestinian political party threatens to attack the Jews as they leave. What sense does that make?

From Associated Press:

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel will launch a massive ground operation if Palestinian militants fire on Israeli soldiers and settlers during next month's Gaza pullout, the deputy defense minister said Sunday.

In such a scenario, the evacuation of settlers would be halted for 10-14 days while Israeli forces occupy Palestinian towns near the Jewish settlements, Zeev Boim said.

Israel is set to evacuate all 21 Gaza Strip settlements and four more in the West Bank in mid-August. The pullout is set to last four weeks.

Boim told Israel Radio the ground operation would be massive, on the scale of the Defensive Shield offensive of 2002, in which Israel reoccupied West Bank towns after a series of suicide bombings.

Israeli leaders have warned repeatedly in recent days that the military would respond harshly to Palestinian fire during the withdrawal. However, Boim's comments marked the first time the scope of a military offensive was outlined.

If the militants attack, "we would stop the withdrawal, we would deliver a harsh strike, a large-scale operation," Boim told the radio.

Such an operation would be "about the size of Defensive Shield, meaning about 10 days to two weeks of a heavy strike against terror, to uproot it," Boim said.

The focus of the strike, by a force of about 12,000-15,000 troops, probably would be the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, which lies next to the main bloc of settlements, Boim said.

Israel is coordinating the security aspect of the pullout with the Palestinians, hoping Palestinian security will be able to prevent militants from firing on the thousands of soldiers and settlers who will be involved in the pullout.

But the Palestinians have warned that their forces are woefully ill-equipped in all major areas, including arms, ammunition, transportation and communications.

Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Sunday that Israel should consider giving the Palestinian police arms and ammunition to fight militant groups and ensure quiet during the withdrawal.

"If we tell the Palestinians to combat Hamas, we have to hear what their needs are," Peres told Israel Radio.

Israel fears the weapons will fall into the hands of the militant groups and be used to attack Israelis.

Yeah, that seems like a distinct possibility. Especially when you consider the fact that many members of the Palestinian security forces are also members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.