After a Hamas suicide bomber blew himself up during a Passover seder killing more than 20 people at the Park Hotel in Netanya, Israel, changed its official strategy in dealing with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. He is now officially considered an enemy of Israel and has been isolated in his Ramallah compound. Other areas under PA control are being closed off just like Ramallah. One of the main goals for Israel is to arrest militants within PA areas that Arafat has not arrested.
The question is what to do with Arafat and how to bring stability back to the region. It seems the PA has no control over the situation. Its president is unable to lead, which is probably a good thing since his leadership has brought an onslaught of suicide bombers and attacks on Israeli citizens. And it just isn’t Israelis who are being killed, recently 11 Palestinians accused of aiding Israel were shot dead.
The United Nations and Arab nations are calling for the Israelis to pull out of PA areas and to free Arafat. Why should Israel do either? Its security and the well-being of its people are at risk. Pulling out won’t stop suicide attacks in the long run, as the past has shown.
It would be a sign of weakness that terrorists have exploited and will continue to exploit Israelis until they are snuffed out. Granted, retaliating against PA areas has increased the frequency, but if Israel is successful at crushing the protagonists of such attacks, then there is a better chance at stopping suicide attacks. Unfortunately for the Palestinians who do want peace, terrorists and the protagonists of attacks against Israel hide in the PA areas. The PA has pretty much allowed this to happen.
In fact, when Israel went through Arafat’s compound, they arrested 150 Palestinians, including fugitives on its wanted list. They also discovered a cache of rocket-propelled grenades, which is a direct violation of the 1993 Oslo Accords. The current situation of isolating Arafat in his compound is the wrong policy. Unless Israel intends to either kill or capture Arafat, the Israelis should not have entered Arafat’s compound. They should have stopped after cutting its power and water supplies. The current situation leaves Arafat in a situation where he can easily be killed, which would be bad news for Israel.
Since Israel has entered the compound, Arafat should be arrested. He should be held in an environment where Israel can better guarantee his safety. Currently, Arafat is surrounded by armed bodyguards and is armed himself. All he has to do is come out shooting to become a martyr. Because Arafat is the Palestinians icon, as Emperor Hirohito was to the Japanese, he must be kept alive and safe for the future peace of the area.
Israel should maintain its focus of ridding the PA areas of groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Arafat’s Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (which is taking over as the primary terror group in the area). Israel should go back to its strategy of assassinating the leaders and key persons in each of these groups. I know the use of assassination is a taboo in America, but this is its best option. Target the terrorists and militants, not everyone else. Waging a war against all the Palestinians will just make it worse because, eventually, both sides will (ideally) have to co-exist in the same area. Coming through and bulldozing houses is a great way to instill fear in the Palestinians but not a good way to gain any kind of favor with them.
Alex Hardman is a junior majoring in engineering.