Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Israel's Security Steps Up Targeted Attacks Against Terrorist, despite US Objections
Israel's security Cabinet has decided to step up the targeted killings of Palestinian terrorists in an attempt to thwart attacks, despite US opposition to the policy. The 13-member forum convened for four hours and declared a policy of "active defense" against terrorists who plan or attempt to carry out attacks against Israelis. "All of the cabinet ministers are in favor of intercepting terrorists," Cabinet Minister Ephraim Sneh told Army Radio after the meeting. He said "assassination" was a term used by "Israel's enemies." Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Israel would not abandon the US-brokered cease-fire, "but at the same time, we decided to take self-defense activities when necessary." Palestinian officials said the decision would doom the already collapsing cease-fire. "Such a government that takes such dangerous decisions to assassinate people and continue its aggression is a government that opposes peace," said Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, an aide to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
It appears that Israel immediately put the new policy into effect. A Palestinian from Yasser Arafatâ€™s Tanzim militia was shot and wounded today in Hebron by two men in civilian clothes. Palestinians said the attackers were Israeli undercover agents. The victim was identified as Hazem Natsche, 23. Speaking from his hospital bed, he said Israeli forces had been searching for him for eight months and that he believed Palestinians working for Israel had shot him. The Israeli army said it had no knowledge of the incident.
Meanwhile, Israel and the Palestinians are squabbling over the timetable of the US peace plan. Palestinian officials claimed that the week-long test period for calm had begun last Wednesday and was now complete. "Now the US administration has to bear responsibility for announcing the start of implementing the timeline for the Mitchell report," said Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah. The Mitchell committee's recommendations include a freeze on construction at Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza after a cooling-off period of six weeks. However, Israel says the countdown never started because violence did not stop. "There has been no attempt to foil [terror attacks]," said army chief of staff Lt-Gen. Shaul Mofaz. "The Palestinians are not arresting terrorists, and the results are very bad." In comments to German television, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said his policy of "restraint" was cracking because of Arafat's failure to stop the violence. "Tremendous restraint is not an easy thing here when people are killed," Sharon said. "I instructed that we try to restrain ourselves. We have done it. The answer to that by Arafat was more terror, more bloodshed, more incitement." He called for "worldwide pressure" on Arafat to adhere to the cease-fire. Outgoing US Ambassador Martin Indyk also sharply criticized Arafat, saying he never "really gave up violence as a tool to achieving his objectives."
Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson has come out in support of Israelâ€™s policy of targeted killings. "I am absolutely in support of an Israeli policy that says, we think surgical strikes of a military nature against the architects of terror are more appropriate than harming innocent civilians who are not responsible for the terror," Robertson told a news conference here in Jerusalem. Robertson upbraided the US and other countries for criticizing Israel. "Nations of the world must understand that Israel is not a ward of the United Nations and is not a ward of the United States, and its policies must reflect the best interests of Israel," he said. The Christian leader, who heads a business and broadcast empire, blamed Yasser Arafat for the violence. Robertson said he interviewed Arafat twice in the past and found that while he talks of peace in English, he urges his people in Arabic to fight to destroy the Jewish state. "He no longer should be considered a legitimate partner for Israel...It is incumbent on them [the Palestinians] to choose a leader who is responsible and not dedicated to terror." He also said American Christians should visit Israel. "They should be encouraged to not allow terror succeed by choking off...tourism," he said. "It's probably no more dangerous to be in Jerusalem than it is to be in New York City." Robertson noted that he was touring Israel with his wife, a "statement to the American Christian community that it is safe in Israel to come and visit the holy sites and to travel in this nation."
Israeli and Palestinian religious leaders have held officially-sanctioned secret talks to address some of the toughest religious issues at the core of the Middle East conflict. This was revealed today by Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior, an Orthodox rabbi who has been involved in the talks. He said the aim was to issue a joint call for an end to violence based on the Moslem principle of "hudna" (armistice). One of his counterparts, Palestinian minister Sheikh Talal Seder, confirmed that he met Melchior recently. "I have found Moslem counterparts of the highest level morally and spiritually who have very little knowledge about Judaism, but who are decent human beings who believe that Jews are also human beings," Melchior told reporters. He said talks with senior Moslem and Christian clerics had been going on discreetly for several years. "Because of the situation now...the main target is to find legitimacy in both camps to stop terror and violence...Therefore to issue a religious statement like a 'hudna', having important Moslem religious leaders come out, for example, against suicide bombing as a way to reach heaven, is very important," Melchior said.