Olmert Opts for Soft Response to Palestinian Suicide Attack

For Israelis, Tuesday, the eve of the last day of Passover, was a day of funerals, mourning for 9 Israelis, foreign workers and tourists who lost their lives when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a busy shopping corner in Tel Aviv on Monday, April 17.
It was the most murderous outrage committed by Palestinian terrorists in 20 months, the first since the Hamas terrorist group took office and a test of the mettle of the incoming prime minister Ehud Olmert.
After the Hamas government justified the attack ludicrously as “self defense,” few doubted he would order a swift, punishing blow to the Palestinian government as a deterrent to further outrages. Instead, Olmert, foreign minister Tzipi Livni and defense minister Shaul Mofaz decided to abstain from military action, rejecting the advice of military leaders to declare the Hamas government an enemy authority. The generals and security chiefs argued that without this declaration, their hands were tied in fighting off terror, because of the developing situation whereby the terrorist entity ruling the Palestinian Authority was in the process of taking over its official security organs.
After hours of debate, Olmert and his interim cabinet stated that the Hamas government was responsible for Palestinian acts of terror, but nonetheless no military action against its institutions were authorized. Dodging the military’s requests, the meeting produced the perfect recipe for indecisive action.
1. The Hamas government is held responsible for acts of terror. Indeed this government defended the Tel Aviv attack as “self-defense”. Therefore, Olmert and his aides decided, Israel will embark on… a worldwide information drive.
debkafile‘s political sources wonder what is left to explain. First, most Western governments and the UN secretary roundly condemned the attack without prompting from the Israeli foreign ministry. The next day, even distant Japan joined the US-European freeze on aid to the Palestinian Authority. Second, Hamas makes no bones about its malignant intentions. Nothing could be clearer than the performance of 40 Hamas officials from the Gaza Strip at the conference held in Tehran last week, where every possible threat was heaped on the Zionist state. Fourth, Egyptian and European border monitors let the 40 terror officials exit Gaza unhindered; in Cairo, no-one stopped them catching a plane to Tehran.
debkafile asks: Why did the Olmert government fail to order the detention, at the very least, of the 40 self-proclaimed Hamas enemies of Israel upon their return home?
2. Israel will begin revoking the Israeli residency status of three Hamas officials living in East Jerusalem, among them Mahmoud Abu Tier. This suggestion is attributed to Livni. All three would be granted a hearing first and given the chance to resign their seats in the national legislature and quit the Hamas. Those three will certainly not miss the chance of a public hearing with the world media present. It would be a propaganda boon, an opportunity to challenge Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem all the way to Israel’s high court, international tribunals and the United Nations.
debkafile asks: Olmert and Livni could have saved themselves this unprofitable exercise if in the first place they had barred Hamas terrorists from running for parliament last January and disallowed polling in Jerusalem. Now it is too late.
3. Israel’s security branches will draw up a plan for further disconnecting the districts of the West Bank by “almost” completely blocking Palestinian passage between the terrorist hotbeds of the Jenin and Tulkarm districts and Nablus and Ramallah. There would be more roadblocks and more stringent screening.
debkafile asks: Why were suicide bombers and their accomplices allowed until now to travel without hindrance down a clear route from Jenin to Jerusalem and thence to Tel Aviv despite endless warnings? How did it happen that the most important national highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem now sees almost daily police chases after Palestinian terrorists bound for or after attacks?
4. Olmert promises for the umpteenth time to complete the last sections of the barrier supposed to seal Jerusalem to terrorist access. The work has been held up for three years although the gaps are suicide terrorists’ back door into Israel. The ministers complain that the High Court is dragging its feet on Palestinian petitions.
debkafile asks: Why is Ehud Olmert like Ariel Sharon before him concealing the real delaying factor, which is not litigation but the serious controversy between Jerusalem and Washington over the fence’s route? Unable to decide the issue one way or the other, it suits Israel’s leaders to pass the buck to the high court. The result is a logjam of petitions on the court’s docket as well as an open gateway for terrorists to reach targets in Israel.
5. Israel will continue to target Jihad Islami operatives for assassination and bombard missile sites in the Gaza Strip.
6. The police will crack down on illegal Palestinian entrants and their employers.
debkafile asks finally: What relevance does this six-point program of inaction have for the Tel Aviv suicide attack and the outrages which are promised to follow?b?

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