JERUSALEM - 12 October 2000. The intense media war had already been raging for two weeks. Now, tank fire and helicopter rockets have been unleashed - against Yasser Arafat's governmental and broadcasting positions. Today's missile attacks on Palestinian government targets in Ramallah and Gaza City sent the clearest message possible that the Barak government, reflecting the anguished feelings of most of its Jewish citizens, has abandoned all hopes of ever signing a workable peace accord with the current Palestinian leader.
Arafat could have avoided this day. He could have publicly forbidden his armed Fatah militiamen and security forces from repeatedly opening fire over the past two weeks (well over 300 armed attacks on Israeli targets have been recorded). Way before that, he could have agreed to accept Barak's almost unimaginable offer at Camp David of effective on-the-ground sovereignty over Judaism's most sacred site on earth, the Temple Mount, and control over most of the Old City and surrounding areas adjacent to it. Instead, in typical fashion, he held out for all, or nothing at all. Now, he will probably get nothing, apart from some international sympathy and a river of blood.
Arafat called today's Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip and Ramallah "a declaration of war." Most Israelis believe he already made that same pronouncement against them when he refused to publicly damp down his savagely attacking people. Now, in his first response to today's military action, he has freed the worst Islamic terrorists from his jails. He will surely soon call on his outraged Arab and Islamic cousins around the region and the world to come to his aid.
Ever the innocent victim, the Palestinian leader will also call for United Nations, European Union and other international intervention. But that will be mainly for show. World powers will not give him what he internally wants and politically needs - the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state "from the river to the sea." And its capital, as he has said almost every day since he signed the Oslo accords in 1993, must be "holy Al-Quds" (Jerusalem), "whether Israel likes it or not."
Yasser Arafat can only remotely hope to fulfill his promise/threat to make Jerusalem his capital if others help him do so... So he apparently decided that Oslo was over, and ordered or allowed his armed security forces to join in daily attacks against Israeli targets. Despite pleas from Clinton, Barak and other world leaders, he refused to make any public call for the violence to be curtailed. Instead, he repeatedly said it was all Ariel Sharon's fault for "hurting" Islamic feelings by visiting Judaism's holiest site on the eve of the Jewish New Year.
Far from attempting to halt the violence, Arafat's state-controlled media encouraged his people to keep up the attacks. As occurred after previous terror attacks, the dead were hailed as Islamic martyrs who had earned the highest place in paradise. He knew that at some point, the Israeli government would be forced to respond with some of its heavy weaponry. Then the stage would be set for a wider Mideast war that would, hopefully, drag in surrounding states and Hizbullah forces. Only in the midst of a much wider conflict does he have any flicker of hope of setting up his throne in Jerusalem.
The violence began on the Temple Mount. The Bible calls it the heart of the world, the place where the God of the Universe chose to place His earthly throne. Where the conflict will end, only God knows. But Bible believers, both Christians and Jews, can take some bit of comfort from today's awful news: The ancient Jewish prophets told us we would see a great struggle over the city of Jerusalem at the end of days. And thus it is so.
[David Dolan is a veteran Mideast correspondent with CBS radio news and with various Christian media. He has authored two books on biblical prophecy and the Middle East and resides in Jerusalem.]
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.