Steven den Beste has retired from political blogging, but he wrote a very interesting post back in 2004. In Up Against The Wall, Steven points out the moment when US foreign policy shifts so far as our stance on the Palestinians.
President Bush gave a speech in June of 2002 where he pledged support for the formation of a sovereign Palestinian state, but only if they first renounced terrorism. One of the conditions for this was the dismantling of organizations that currently perform terrorist acts, and even organizations which conducted terrorism in the past. This obviously isn’t going to happen as long as the Palestinians are eager to elect openly genocidal terrorist organizations to head their government.
Steven makes a lot of really interesting points in his post, and I urge you all to take a few minutes to read the whole thing. (Steven clarifies some of his points in this follow up post.) There is, however, one aspect to Steven’s original essay that I would like to focus on here.
Steven predicted a nasty civil war between various Palestinian factions as soon as the Israeli security barrier was completed. This would come to pass as support for the various Palestinian terrorist groups would dry up when they could no longer perform the one function for which they were created: attack Israeli targets.
Open civil war never broke out, even though there were some indications that the situation was getting ever more desperate. Money was very scarce, and it was obvious that things couldn’t hold together forever.
Terrorists connected to Hamas dug a half mile long tunnel under the security barrier in order to carry out a nighttime raid on June 25. After killing two Israeli soldiers and capturing a third, the terrorists fled back across the border.
This prompted a massive reaction from the Israeli military, with high level Hamas leaders being deliberately targeted. This is why it would seem odd that gunmen from the Iran sponsored Hezbollah terrorist group would stage a copycat raid, capturing two Israeli soldiers of their own. If Hamas is getting plastered, why would Hezbollah want to attract a similar amount of attention?
The key word here is “attention”. The Hamas raid took a fair amount of planning and a great deal of work, since half mile long tunnels are not something you can dig out in a weekend. Killing two enemy soldiers and capturing a third is not worth the cost in and of itself, but such an act would reap dividends if it got the donations flowing again. Hezbollah probably decided to launch their own raid because they wanted some of that sweet, sweet murder money for themselves.
If viewed in this light, Israel’s military response is a bad idea in the long run. Vigorously attacking your enemies will only convince supporters of terrorism to fork over the support that the Palestinians need to keep any pending civil war at bay. On the other hand, refusing to act might also have been seen as a sign that Israel is weak and on the ropes, which would have convinced the donors that they should keep funding Hamas anyway. Might as well show strength if that is the case.
It could very well be that Steven’s prediction of a Palestinian civil war can still come true. We will just have to wait and see.
I came across this post over at Murdoc Online while I was writing my own. He makes note of the fact that the expected condemnation of Israel’s military operations has seemed tepid in the extreme, and the Israelis are even receiving some encouragement from the Anglosphere. Could this be part of a broader strategy to take care of the Iranian nuclear threat?
I’m not sure about that. While I have little trouble believing that the decision was made to take advantage of the situation, it looks to me like Murdoc is suggesting that an unlikely amount of scheming and deal making was done before the fact.
Go ahead and scroll down to the bottom of Murdoc’s post. He has a few links that might be of interest.