Daily Israel Report

Israel Is "Deeply Troubled" By Bush's Position

President Bush said yesterday that he is "deeply troubled" by Israel's attempt to eliminate Hamas leader and mass-murderer Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and that the action "does not contribute to the security of Israel."
First Publish: 6/11/2003, 7:42 PM

President Bush said yesterday that he is "deeply troubled" by Israel's attempt to eliminate Hamas leader and mass-murderer Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and that the action "does not contribute to the security of Israel." The Zionist Organization of America, however, notes that Hamas is responsible for the murders of hundreds of Israelis and Americans - and that 29 of the 39 Americans murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists since 1993 were murdered by Hamas. ZOA leadership released a statement expressing its own "deep concern" at Bush's position, saying,
"Mr. President, we are deeply troubled that you are criticizing Israel for taking action against the leader of a group that is on America's own list of terrorist groups. What is the difference between your call to 'get Bin-Laden dead or alive' and Israel's pursuit of the Bin-Ladens of Hamas? Just as America's elimination of terrorist leaders in Afghanistan and Iraq contributes to America's security, Israel's elimination of terrorist leaders in Gaza - just a few miles from Israel's major population centers - clearly and directly contributes to Israel's security.
"Terrorist leaders will derive great comfort from knowing that they can count on the U.S. to criticize and pressure Israel against their attempts to strike at Hamas mass murderers…
"[We] are also surprised and disappointed that you have refrained from criticizing PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) for his failure to abide by the Road Map requirements to dismantle Hamas, arrest its members, and confiscate its weapons. It is Abu Mazen's refusal to fulfill those requirements that forces Israel to take action. You should be putting the blame where it belongs - on the terrorist regime of Abu Mazen."

Bush also had some criticism of Israel yesterday for firing at a car carrying three suspected Kassam rocket-launchers, shortly after six such rockets were fired at Sderot. The three passengers in the car were killed.

A Jerusalem Post editorial by Caroline Glick today is entitled, "We, too, are deeply troubled." She writes that Rantisi is a senior terrorist involved in all aspects of Hamas' terrorist infrastructure, including incitement, fundraising, terrorist mobilization, and public relations. Glick quotes the Defense Ministry's statement that Rantisi shares the criminal responsibility for the murder of 227 Israelis and the wounding of 1,393 others since the beginning of the Palestinian terrorist war three years ago. She then writes,
"Following the air force's unsuccessful attempt to kill Rantisi yesterday, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was quick to say that US President George W. Bush is 'deeply troubled' by the IDF's action. The president apparently believes that, by taking out Rantisi, the government is somehow harming the chances for peace."

Glick notes the Americans' "blatant hypocrisy" when it comes to Palestinian terrorists:
"While it is clear that anyone in any way related to Al-Qaeda is a terrorist, we are told that there is a distinction between 'political' and 'military' wings of the terrorist organizations that are mainly dedicated to killing Israelis... While the US can take out anyone related to Al-Qaeda, it expects Israel to protect bin Laden's Palestinian counterparts in the terrorism business... Like Bush, we too are deeply troubled by yesterday's attempt to take out a mass murderer of our fellow citizens. We are troubled because Rantisi has lived to murder another day. We wish the air force better luck in the future in carrying out its mission of safeguarding the lives of Israeli citizens from the murderous likes of Rantisi."

Likud MK Yuval Shteinitz, Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said yesterday on Channel Two Television that Israel's government would be shirking its duty and obligation to the citizens of Israel if it stood by with its arms folded "just because the Palestinians are thinking about talking about having some kind of time out." The former Peace Now activist said that President Bush would never take such a stand regarding American citizens facing terror. Shteinitz said that the difference between Israeli and American operations is that while Israel waited for an opportunity to hit Rantisi with a minimum of collateral damage, an American operation would have simply dropped a bomb atop Rantisi's house, killing everyone there.