Makor Rishon, March 15, Ynet, March 10, 2002.


By Yoram Ettinger

A LETHAL COMBINATION OF WEAKNESS OF THE SPINE AND WEAKNESS OF THE MIND, has produced the unprecedented deadly delusion of the Oslo and Wye Accords, Camp David-2 and the Mitchell and the Tenet Plans. It has nurtured an unprecedented Palestinian hope, inspiring the bloodiest ever wave of Palestinian terrorism. The "Separation Fence/Buffer Zone" concepts constitute another expression of the fatal Israeli delusion.

A PROPER DUE-DILIGENCE OF THE 8.5 YEARS SINCE THE SIGNING OF THE OSLO ACCORDS (1993) AND THE 34 YEARS SINCE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PLO (1964), has confirmed that the PLO is indeed a mortal enemy, rather than a partner to negotiation. It has also reaffirmed the fact that Palestinian terrorism cannot be resolved through political means. PLO/PA-LED TERRORISM CAN BE RESOLVED ONLY THROUGH A PROACTIVE (rather than reactive), OFFENSIVE (rather than defensive), SYSTEMIC (rather than surgical and local), SWIFT (rather than protracted) MILITARY INITIATIVE CONDUCTED AT THE TERRORISTS' HOME BASE (rather than at the victims' arena), AIMING AT THE OBLITERATION OF (rather than negotiation with) THE ENEMY. Such a military initiative should restore Israel's long-term posture of deterrence, while ANNIHILATING THE OPERATIONAL, LOGISTIC, POLITICAL, IDEOLOGICAL, FINANCIAL and MEDIA INFRASTRUCTURE of PLO/PA-led Palestinian terrorism.

THE AIM SHOULD NOT BE A CEASE-FIRE, BUT RATHER THE DESTRUCTION OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE WHICH FEEDS THE FIRE (OF TERROR), including Arafat, his lieutenants and the 60,000 Palestinian terrorists imported - since 1993 - from Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia. Such a strategy has guided the U.S. War On Terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Panama and Grenada, and Turkey's and Egypt's battle against Kurdish and Muslim terrorism. It also characterized counter-terrorist measures by Peru, Germany and Italy, in face of Shining Path, Baader Meinhoff and Red Brigade terrorists.

On the other hand, THE CONCEPTS OF "SEPARATION FENCE/BUFFER ZONE" ARE BASED ON SURGICAL AND LOCAL RETALIATION, DEFENSIVE RESTRAINT AND A GRADUAL DRIFT TO A PROLONGED WAR OF ATTRITION - the fantasy of terrorists and the nightmare of democracies. These concepts constitute an erroneous tactical step, supplying the public with a short-term false sense of security. They intend to bypass the inevitable need to undertake a difficult and a resolute strategic decision, which would bolster long-term national and personal security. A unilateral scheme of "separation fence/buffer zone" adopted under fire - just like withdrawal under fire (e.g. from Lebanon) - reflects WEAKNESS, IMPATIENCE, DESPAIR AND SHORT-SIGHTEDNESS. The mere public debate over separation/buffer zone accelerates the erosion of Israel's posture of deterrence. It is perceived as a form of an Israeli retreat and a Palestinian achievement, fueling Palestinian radicalism and terrorism. A "separation fence/buffer zone" would re-entrench, rather than eradicate, Palestinian terrorism. It would undermine the maneuverability of the IDF, in pursuit of terrorists, and would sustain - rather than eliminate - the terrorist sword over the head of Israeli towns on both sides of the fence/buffer zone, encouraging their inhabitants to emigrate to Israel's coastal plain.

The system of "separation fence/buffer zone" consists of a number of human and technological elements. ITS EFFECTIVENESS DEPENDS ON THE GEOGRAPHIC DEPTH ON BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE/BUFFER ZONE. The deeper the zone, the higher its effectiveness. For instance, in order to safeguard the personal security of U.S. GIs in Bosnia, the U.S. Army requires a 25km radius Killing Zone (off limit to local folks). National security requires a deeper zone. However, the 2,200sqm of Judea&Samaria barely provide for a 25km radius Killing Zone, and the Israeli psyche certainly does not tolerate the killing of thousands of Palestinians crossing the Killing Zone in order to seek employment in Israel. The more dense is the population along the fence/buffer zone, the less effective is the entire system.

THE REALITY IN THE GAZA STRIP ATTESTS TO THE FAILURE OF THE "SEPARATION FENCE/BUFFER ZONE CONCEPT". Thus, terror fatalities in Israel have reached an all time high since - and as a result of - the 1993 unilateral separation from Gaza, which has been surrounded by a fence and a series of buffer zones. An advanced fence was erected in 1999, in Gaza, between the Palestinian town of Khan Yunes and the Israeli towns of Gush Katif. However, THE ABSENCE OF A SIGNIFICANT GEOGRAPHIC DEPTH, THE HIGHLY DENSE PALESTINIAN POPULATION, AND THE INABILITY OF THE IDF TO MAN EACH SEGMENT OF THE FENCE, have caused the dismantling, theft and eventual breakdown of the sophisticated system. The 2001 fatalities at the Marganit Outpost serve as a reminder of the pitfalls of the concept. Moreover, in January 2002 Palestinian terrorists caused a false alarm at the Gaza fence (next to the Kissufim check-point), killing a tracker who arrived to the site. A simultaneous operation by scores of terrorists, alarming the IDF at dozens of sites, could cause major losses and the collapse of the system. Palestinian terrorists broke through the fence near the Jewish town of Eleigh-Sinai in Gaza, taking advantage of the slim geographic depth, reaching homes of potential Jewish hostages well before the arrival of the alarmed IDF patrol.

THE CRITICAL FLAWS OF THE "SEPARATION FENCE/BUFFER ZONE" CONCEPTS WOULD BE MORE STRIKING IN JUDEA&SAMARIA, AND IN JERUSALEM, THAN IN GAZA. A fence/buffer zone in Judea&Samaria would be much longer, the topography is significantly more complex (with major advantages to the higher J&S over the lower coastal plain) and the demography extremely dense. The IDF lacks the manpower to man every spot of the fence, which would also be vulnerable to vandalism by Israeli Arabs.

AS EVIDENCES BY THE LAST FEW YEARS, "SEPARATION FENCE/BUFFER ZONES" CANNOT PROTECT THE INHABITANTS OF THE GILO NEIGHBORHOOD, IN JERUSALEM - AND OF OTHER SITES IN JERUSALEM AND ALONG THE GREEN LINE - AGAINST MACHINE GUNS, MORTARS OR MISSILES. On the other hand, the implementation of such a concept could become a precedent for the arrival of foreign observers/forces, as desired by the PLO, which would further constraint the ability of the IDF to hot-pursuit and preempt terrorists. It could also become a precedent for the separation of Jews from Arabs in the Galilee, Wadi Ara', the Negev, and even in Jerusalem. Such a concept could cause the pouring of the Baby (security) with the Dirty Water (demography). It would erect a gigantic White Elephant, the cost of which could finance a much more productive instrument: a substantial expansion of Israel's combat units and Security Services.

THE UNILATERAL SEPARATION FROM LEBANON HAS UPGRADED HIZBALLAH FROM A TACTICAL, TO STRATEGIC, THREAT. IT HAS ADRENALIZED THE VEINS OF PALESTINIAN TERROR, at a devastating cost of human life. The application of such a concept to Judea&Samaria could be fatal - humanly and financially - due to the proximity to Israel's major population centers, the scarcity of geographic depth, the inferior topography of the coastal plain and the dense Palestinian population along the 1967 Lines. THE SOLUTION TO TERRORISM IS NOT THE ERECTION OF A "SEPARATION FENCE/BUFFER ZONE," BUT RATHER THE DESTRUCTION OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE WHICH FEEDS TERRORISM.

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