Reaching "Critical Mass" In Middle East?

Part 1 -- The Slaughter

by DEBKAfile

22 June 2002


The slaughter of innocents inflicted on Israel this week by Palestinian murderers is unparalleled since the days of Nazi Germany. No longer are Israelis murdered singly; whole families are being wiped out while asleep, riding buses, celebrating.
The terror stalking every corner of the country lends the term holocaust a fearful, intimate meaning for the offspring of those who survived the Nazis and in 1948 founded a Jewish state and a national defense force, vowing that never again would Jewish children die defenseless.

This week, Israelis began accusing their government of violating this vow.

Of all governments, the administration headed by a fabled hardliner, Ariel Sharon, stands accused of abandoning the country to its fate. More particularly, it is the triumvirate he leads with his two Labor partners, defense minister Binyamin bin Eliezer and the co-author of the Oslo accords which brought Yasser Arafat back to the country, foreign minister Shimon Peres, that is in the popular dock.

None of the three confess to committing any political or tactical errors even when, during four days this week, 34 Israelis, 32 of them civilians and many children, died at the hands of Palestinian killers. Nothing the Sharon government has done is proving effective for stemming the slaughter; nor will it prevent the continuation of the killing next week, which is predicted by DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources.

Thursday night, June 20, a Palestinian broke into a house at Itamar, a settlement south of Nablus, murdered Rahel Shevo and her three children, Neria, 15, Tsvi, 12, Avishai, 5, and the security officer Yosef Tawito, who rushed to their rescue. Two more children of the Shevo family are fighting for their lives in hospital, as are two border guards.

Three weeks ago, Palestinian killers targeted the same settlement, shooting dead three 14-year old youths playing baseball. Their friend, who survived the attack, was blasted to his death Wednesday, June 19, by a huge charge detonated in the evening rush hour by another Palestinian terrorist at the French Hill intersection of north Jerusalem.

That atrocity claimed seven lives, among them 5-year old Gal Eizerman from Maaleh Adumim (See picture), and her grandmother, Noa Alon, 60, from Ofra, and left 30 injured.

The next day, Avraham Nehmad, 17, from Rishon Lezion, died after four months in a coma from the wounds he suffered in a Palestinian bombing attack in the religious quarter of Jerusalem. He never knew he was the eighth victim of the family to die in that single attack on a Bar Mitzva celebration in Jerusalem.

Tuesday, June 18, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a Jerusalem bus, killing 19 and injuring 52, most from shell-battered Gilo.
Saturday, June 22, 30 injured victims of the week’s carnage remain in hospital, 10 in critical condition.

All the Palestinian terrorist groups are eager to claim responsibility for these atrocities - from Arafat’s Fatah and its offshoots, to the Islamic Hamas and Jihad Islami and the PFLP which assassinated an Israeli cabinet minister, Rehavam Zeevi, last year.
Israelis find themselves trapped increasingly in a grim routine. Newscasts switched on everywhere sound more like funeral bulletins with accounts of bloodshed and the tales of horror pouring out until interrupted by breaking news of the next calamity.
In French Hill, acquaintances running into each other Friday, June 21, nodded silently, barely able to speak.

The big French Hill intersection is the location of bus stops and heavy traffic heading from central and southern Jerusalem to its northern suburbs, the Dead Sea, West Bank settlements and other points north, as well as a soldiers’ hitchhiking post.
Commonly described as the best-guarded junction in the country, it turned out after the bombing that only four police border guards officers were on duty without walkie-talkies. They communicated by shouting against the noise of roaring traffic. The Palestinian district of Beit Hanina is walking distance from the intersection. French Hill parks have been taken over by Palestinian youths from surrounding villages who vandalize property, menace local residents and maintain round-the clock surveillance of their movements.

In other words, four policemen at the French Hill intersection were the flimsy rampart thrown up against Palestinian terror assaults that are backed up by an efficient surveillance-intelligence system at one of the capital’s key intersections and a complete neighborhood.

This precarious situation is mirrored up and down Israeli areas abutting West Bank locations.

The ordinary Israeli asks himself why, after two years of spiraling Palestinian terror, his government is still incapable of overcoming this chronic menace to himself and his family, why it is not fending off the Palestinians’ homicidal suicide onslaught.