Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Israeli junta helpless in the face of terror?: "With three of his ministers publicly baying for Mr Arafat's blood, and the body of Israeli public opinion not far behind, Mr Sharon had apparently backed himself into a corner. He sought to grope his way out with a response to the Haifa bomb that would silence calls for him to follow through on the threat against the Palestinian leader.

"Yaron Ezrahi, a political scientist at Hebrew University, said: 'The military and political leadership, which converges because they are all generals, is simply helpless in the face of terror. The attack [on Syria] was a kind of diversion. They realised getting Arafat would be too dangerous, and not practical. But if they are not going to get Arafat, then they thought the attack would calm the public, make it think the government is prepared to take big steps to fight terror.

"'It's a frightening attack because it seems to be so influenced by the domestic political and psychological situation. They chose a target which is only symbolically related to the situation. It's like Bush: he couldn't get Bin Laden so he hit Afghanistan. We cannot get Arafat and we cannot really get Hamas, so we kick Assad in the ass.'

"Opinion polls show that Israelis are increasingly sceptical of Mr Sharon's claim that he can halt "the terror" by force. Israel's "targeted assassinations" have apparently been less successful at curbing suicide bombings than the Palestinian leadership has been in its attempts, backed by some Arab and western governments, to persuade Hamas that it has a stake in the political process."

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