In the November 2000 Outpost, we published an interview with Knesset Member Michael Kleiner in which he argued that Israel's only strategic option was to oust Arafat and the PA and restore the pre-Oslo situation. We called it "A Viable Alternative"--indeed the only viable alternative. At the time, with Barak declaring there was "no alternative" to the peace process, and offering Arafat hitherto unimaginable concessions, viable or no, it seemed an option no Israeli government would consider. Yet now there is open talk in military and political circles about taking precisely such a dramatic step. The following three items, the first from Reuters, describing Arafat's reversion to terror chieftain, the second from the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, providing an example of the anarchy pervading the area under the so-called Palestinian Authority, the third, a set of instructions for ordinary citizens from the Israel Defense Forces, help to explain why Israelis are finally coming to define what eight years of "the peace process" have wrought as intolerable.
Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz accused the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday of stockpiling weapons smuggled by sea and underground tunnels to use in a Palestinian revolt that has been raging for almost six months.
Mofaz said Chairman Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority has been amassing small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and mortar shells. He said some of the arms, especially mortar shells, had been used in recent attacks against Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. A senior aide to Arafat called Mofaz's allegations baseless. "He wants to use these accusations to cover his crime and aggressions and his future plans against the Palestinian people," the aide, Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, said.
Speaking in English to Jewish activists from abroad, Mofaz said, "Lately we have been forced to deal with significant maritime transfers of weapons into the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians are making a very big effort to smuggle [ammunition and arms] into the territories, especially into the Gaza Strip by sea and by tunnels from Egypt to Rafah," he said.
Palestinian security sources have denied that they have mortar shells or heavy weapons. Israeli television stations have broadcast footage of mortar attacks on at least two Jewish settlements in Gaza.
Mofaz said there had been an escalation in fighting in the past few weeks and that this had partly been spurred by the involvement of Palestinian Authority officials in the violence. "This escalation is due to the fact that more and more Palestinian policemen and more and more people from the security agencies from the Palestinian side are taking part in the terror activity and in the circle of violence," he said.
Mofaz said there were more than 3,600 incidents of Israeli soldiers being shot at or attacked with hand grenades or bombs since a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation erupted in late September after peace talks became deadlocked. He accused the Palestinian Authority of using Arafat's Fatah faction as its "operational arm." "The implication is that the Authority is being converted into a terrorist entity," he said.
Mofaz also threatened Israeli retaliation if Hezbollah guerrillas operating out of southern Lebanon continue to attack Israeli forces on the border. Hezbollah guerrillas killed an Israeli soldier patrolling the frontier earlier this month and Israel responded by firing artillery shells against Hezbollah positions.
by Gideon Alon, Ha'aretz Knesset Correspondent
Armed Palestinian gangs threaten to fire on Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood if they do not get "protection money" from the Palestinian Authority. Major General Ya'akov Or, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday that "semi-anarchy, indicating a collapse of the PA's institutional systems," reigns in the territories.
Because of the PA's inability to exercise control, such protection rackets flourish throughout the PA. In one case, he said, members of the Tamra clan blackmailed the secretary-general of Fatah in Bethlehem by threatening to open fire on Gilo if he did not give them money. "Anyone bearing weapons is the master in the territories today," he said.
The PA's economy is collapsing, along with health, education and justice systems, Or said. Few PA ministries are functioning, neither are municipal services. The collapse of civil institutions has left Tanzim militias as the dominant force.
Tensions between PA Muslims and Christians are also on the rise, Or said. This can be seen in vandalism of Christian graves. Some fifty Christian families
[(Continued on p.4)]
March 2001 - 3 - Outpost