Op-Ed: Surprise! Palestinian Leaders Tolerate Terror Buildup
Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn, RZAMr. Phillips is president of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia...
One of the most important, but least-reported stories connected to the recent kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinian terrorists is the discovery of numerous terrorist tunnels and weapons depots in areas ruled by the "peace-seeking" Palestinian Authority.
The conventional wisdom is that Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas is a "moderate" who opposes terrorism and wants to make peace with Israel. PA spokesmen have assured Western reporters that they oppose the Hamas terrorists and are "cooperating" with Israel in the search for the abducted teens.
But what Israeli soldiers have found in their search missions tells a very different story.
As they have gone house to house in the PA-controlled Hevron region, Israeli soldiers have discovered "dozens of suspected terror tunnels," according to a June 22 report on Israeli news sites.
"Some of the tunnels were found by soldiers inside the homes of Palestinians, under large pieces of furniture and laundry machines," they reported. The Israelis also found numerous "caches of weapons and explosives" in private homes -- and "close to 20 laboratories for manufacturing improvised explosives devices."
"We would arrive at a suspicious home and find a family living on the first floor and a laboratory with explosives on the third floor," said a senior officer in the special Israeli Army engineering unit, called Yahalom, which is carrying out the search.
Where, then, do they [the PA police] operate, exactly? Only in areas where foreign television crews are stationed, so they can put on a good show for audiences abroad?
very once in a while, one can find a little hint in the American press about the failure of the Palestinian Authority security forces to combat terrorism. For example, on March 23 of this year, a New York Times report mentioned, in passing, that Israeli troops entered the Jenin refugee camp in pursuit of terrorists because although Jenin is under the "full control" of the Palestinian Authority, "the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps."
Since 2005, the Palestinian security forces have been trained, financed, and equipped by a State Department division called the Office of the United States Security Coordinator. It's a part of the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
But it sure doesn't seem like the bureau's Palestinian operation is doing much law enforcement. For despite all the American aid they receive, the Palestinian security forces don't operate in the refugee camps, which are known as hotbeds of terrorist activity. They don't operate in PA-controlled Hevron, where numerous civilian homes, it turns out, are used for terror tunnels and weapons storage.
Where, then, do they operate, exactly? Only in areas where foreign television crews are stationed, so they can put on a good show for audiences abroad?
The heart and soul of the Oslo accords that Israel signed with the Palestinian leadership in 1993 was the Palestinians' pledge to fight against terrorists. The Palestinian leaders promised to give up terrorism and to combat the extremist diehards in their midst.
That's why Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdrew, in 1995, from the nine cities in Judea-Samaria (the 'West Bank') where 98% of the Palestinian Arabs reside--because the Palestinian Authority promised to live in peace with Israel and combat the terrorists.
That's why Rabin agreed to let them establish a large, heavily-armed security force--because the PA promised to use those forces against the terrorists.
The reality on the ground today makes a mockery of Prime Minister Rabin's generosity. Instead of keeping their promise to Rabin to stamp out the terrorists, the PA is permitting the terrorists to flourish.
In fact, it's an understatement to say they are flourishing. The involvement of ordinary Palestinian Arabs in terror activity has become so widespread that Israeli troops, searching Arab homes at random for clues about the kidnapped teenagers, are again and again finding tunnels and stockpiles of weapons. If this is what the Israelis are finding at random, one can only imagine how many more Palestinian Arab homes are doubling as terror centers.
Forget about the debate over settlement construction.
Forget about whether or not the Palestinians should recognize Israel as a "Jewish state."
Forget about where future borders should be drawn.
It's time to face the most basic problem: the decision by the Palestinian Authority to allow widespread terrorist activity under its very nose shows Israel’s “peace partner" to be quietly preparing an armed insurrection against the Jewish State.
[The authors of members of the board of the Religious Zionists of America / RZA.]