Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Israelis Consider Military Invasion of West Bank, Gaza
July 21, 2001
After months of violence, Israelis are now openly debating the possibility of a military invasion of Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip aimed at crushing the Palestinian Authority and ending the rule of Yasser Arafat.
Military and political officials confirm the army has readied plans for stepping up the use of force, but the cost in lives and the possibility of a wider regional conflict clearly is giving the government pause.
"The army has plans to cover all the possibilities, but what counts is the Cabinet decisions," said Raanan Gissin, spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
"There are three options: (1) surrender to Arafat, (2) go ahead with this plan to occupy or (3) continue the current course of restraint and self-defense. The government has said it's committed to peace, but this situation can't last forever."
One military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a large-scale attack was about to be launched June 2 the day after a suicide bomber killed 21 young people outside a Tel Aviv disco but it was put off by Arafat's announcement, under intense European pressure, of a cease-fire. It's unclear how far along is any planning for large-scale military action, but talk of a massive assault has intensified as Israelis have grown increasingly exasperated with the failure of a cease-fire to take hold. Mortar attacks and bombings inside Israel continue, and Jewish settlers are targeted in near-daily shootings.
The Israeli media has taken to treating the possibility of a serious escalation, even a reoccupation of the population centers controlled by the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, as something of an inevitability, set to be triggered by the next major terrorist attack. "An unusual consensus has taken hold [and] all roads are leading to a catastrophe," wrote Chemi Shalev in the daily Maariv. "A few days after the war breaks out, suddenly everyone will remember how horrible war is ... when it will be too late."
Columnist Haim Hanegbi of Maariv warned Israel's leaders that if they ordered an invasion they could eventually face the same fate as Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president now facing a war crimes trial in The Hague.
But Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin told AP that continued attacks "will not leave Israel any alternatives. I have no doubt the prime minister wants to avoid a war as much as possible ... but if Arafat forces us to go to war, we will go to war."
The Yesha Council representing the 200,000 Jewish settlers, a key source of support for Sharon, issued a statement Thursday calling on the premier to wait no longer and "order the army to ... distance Arafat from the region and dismantle the Palestinian Authority, the largest terrorist organization in the world." (Excerpted from an article from The Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post, July 12, 2001)
PRAYER FOCUS: It seems like the probability of war increases daily. Pray that God will lead and guide the leadership of Israel as they navigate the tricky waters of the current situation. Pray that like Joshua, the people of Israel will put their trust in the Lord.
SCRIPTURE: "Now fear the Lord, and serve Him with all faithfulness. choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:14-16)
Used with Permission from Bridges for Peace.