A major Israeli newspaper has argued against a full-scale military response to the current wave of attacks against Israelis in the occupied Palestinian territories. A lead article in Yedioth Ahronoth points out that a military approach is not the only option.
Senior officers of the Israel Defence Forces, for example, are leaving holes in the so-called "Separation Wall" so that Palestinian workers can pass through into Israel to find work. "More workers means more money, and then there are fewer [resistance] operations," an IDF general explained. "The army intentionally leaves the holes open, and they are videotaped and monitored."
The comment was made in connection with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett being asked why he refuses to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has apparently sent a secret message to the Israeli leadership about a policy change with regard to talks. The Israeli government, said Yedioth Ahronoth, has not yet responded.
"Everyone can be understood in this story," said the newspaper's lead column. "Abbas ranges between daily cooperation with Israel in combating operations and political pressures from within, and the Israeli government knows that there are compromises that the Israeli public find very difficult to accept."
When he is asked to explain why he refuses to meet with Abbas, added the newspaper, Bennett immediately raises the issue of stipends paid to the families of Palestinian prisoners and martyrs which are, most Israelis believe, an incentive for Palestinians to carry out resistance attacks. This, it said, is a good reason and pretext in the context of the current wave of attacks against Israelis.
However, the lead article criticised calls for another military operation against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in response to the attacks. Such a response has been dubbed "Operation Defensive Shield 2", a reference to the Israeli assault on the Jenin Refugee Camp in April 2002 in which at least 56 Palestinians were killed. The fact that Abbas is apparently ready to talk with the Israeli government, argued Yedioth Ahronoth, should be enough to rule out such a military offensive this time.
"In Operation Defensive Shield, and before it, in Operation Journey of Colours in 2002, the PA was the enemy and its areas were enemy areas, but today, our army operates in the entire region and the PA is a partner [in security collaboration], not a military enemy." There is no need, therefore, for Israel to "ignite the fire", it concluded.