The fighting has not let up as Ariel Sharon puts together
his new government. Senior Police commanders decided at an
emergency meeting after Sunday's Netanya suicide-bombing on
ways to foil future terrorist attacks inside Israel.
The main police step announced is an attempt to locate
Palestinians living illegally within the Green Line. In
practice, the police plan to "continue with police
activities to locate Palestinians illegally staying in
Israel by concentrating on those who enable them to stay
inside Israel," is a policy that has never lasted for long,
even though it was tried before. The security services
estimate about 30,000 Palestinians reside illegally in
The IDF is also closing in on Palestinian Authority
territory, mainly in Gaza, as a tactical measure to provide
better security to its forces and Jewish residents, a senior
IDF officer said yesterday. The move also has strategic
value of showing the Palestinians that there is a
territorial price for continuing the conflict, he said.
The "territorial assets," as he called them, are mainly
along the approach roads to the three blocs of Jewish
settlements in Gaza.
The IDF is promising to help the already severely stretched
police forces by intensifying patrols along the Green Line
and in urban centers and by having military patrols start
covering areas inside the territories along the Green Line,
But the IDF says it is skeptical about such activities's
effectiveness and admits that such patrols will mainly stop
Palestinians trying to cross into Israel in search of work;
a terrorist determined to cross will succeed.
Many officers feel that IDF involvement in providing added
security is an expensive plan, whose dividends are not
Though Barak said in his farewell address that abandoning
isolated settlements should be an Israeli step toward peace,
the IDF is against evacuating any Israeli-held territory or
difficult-to-defend settlement in the Gaza Strip at this
time, since the Palestinians would interpret this as a
victory. "It's enough to see how they saw the withdrawal
from Lebanon," said a senior IDF official.
He said, however, that if the Palestinian Authority tried to
"conquer" Netzarim using military force or thousands of
civilians to march there, he might recommend temporary
evacuation of the children. However, he does not think the
Palestinians are capable of an attack of those proportions.
The Palestinians have taken steps to improve their defenses
to block any Israeli move on their areas.
An internal debate is raging inside the Palestinian
Authority, and even inside Hamas, if now is the right time
for terrorist bombings inside the Green Line. Some
Palestinians are of the opinion that the new government
should be given a chance to prove itself, while others
believe the Sharon government should be greeted with a wave
Meanwhile, the Palestinians have introduced a number of new
weapons, including sniper rifles, rifle grenades, and
homemade 81 mm. mortars. The army believes there is a
fledgling arms industry in the Gaza Strip. Nonetheless,
there is a growing shortage of weapons, and the various
Palestinian groups have resorted to stealing ammunition from
The IDF also believes the Palestinians are trying to tap
into Israeli communications networks, and trying to listen
in on cellular phones in the hands of officers and soldiers.
The IDF, and the navy, too, has not succeeded in foiling
even one attempt to smuggle weapons into Gaza. Much of the
weapons and materiel is being smuggled in through tunnels
dug from Egypt. The IDF is using specially designed drills
to try to locate the tunnels, but the soldiers are exposed
to heavy Palestinian sniper fire. One soldier has already
been killed guarding the drilling unit.
The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been monitoring IDF
transmissions and have become quite sophisticated in their
attacks lately. The life-size doll tossed on the border
fence last week was a sophisticated trap aimed at luring IDF
soldiers to a booby- trapped field.
Knowing the IDF is monitoring their communications, the
Palestinians repeatedly spoke of a bomber who was wounded,
hoping to draw IDF sappers into the trap. IDF bulldozers
eventually destroyed the doll and neutralized the
surrounding bombs without mishap.
Besides the political cost, the military cost of the
intifadah is estimated to run into billions of shekels. The
IDF is already planning to ask for as much as NIS 4 billion
more in its annual budget -- and this does not include
safeguarding the Green Line.