Israel Security source: No military response to terror attack wave
- Last update - 23:17 04/08/2002
Security source: No military response to terror attack wave
By Aluf Benn, Amira Hass and Gideon Alon, Ha'aretz Correspondents, Ha'aretz Service and Agencies
Israel will not carry out retaliatory military action in the wake of four terror attacks Sunday which killed 11 people
and wounded more than 60, but will instead focus on deterrent policies meant to hamper the efforts of those intending to
carry out attacks, a security source said Sunday night following consultations between Defense Minister Benjamin
Ben-Eliezer and senior IDF officers.
Israel will continue its policy of easing restrictions on the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, so
as to transfer humanitarian aid and prevent economic collapse in the territories.
During the weekly cabinet meeting earlier in the day, the defense minister said that the new deterrent policies recently
adopted by the government in the fight against suicide bomb attacks are showing "initial signs" of success. His comments
came shortly after a suicide bomber blew himself on a bus near Safed in which nine people were killed and 45 wounded.
"We have moved things up a notch in terms of our battle against the suicide bombing phenomenon," he said.
"Over the last week alone, the security forces have foiled 10 suicide attacks in different stages of planning. All the
terrorists who were planning to blow themselves up were arrested, except for one who was killed. I can detect the
initial signs of deterrence in those cases in which the terrorists gave themselves up."
Ben-Eliezer also said Sunday that his planned meeting with new Palestinian Authority Interior Minister Abdel Razek
Yehiyeh would likely go ahead despite the series of terror attacks Sunday in which 11 people were killed and over 60
The two will discuss a pilot plan aimed at restoring calm to the West Bank and Gaza Strip by focusing on one defined
area of the territories, trying to extinguish the violence there, before moving on to another area.
The security establishment is examining ways to respond to the terror attacks that took place on Sunday. Ben-Eliezer was
meeting with senior IDF officers Sunday evening to reassess the situation, and those taking part in the meeting were to
present their suggestions for possible courses of action.
Government to continue easing restrictions despite attacks
Despite Sunday's bus bombing, the government has decided to continue with plans to ease restrictions on the Palestinian
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Ben-Eliezer and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made the decision not to freeze the lifting
of restrictions in an effort to draw a clear distinction between the civilian population in the West Bank and those
involved in terror activities.
Among the new measures are a reduction in the age of Palestinian workers allowed into Israel; an increase in the number
of Palestinian merchants allowed to trade in Israel and greater accessibility for aid organizations travelling between
the Palestinian areas of the West Bank.
Unlike Ben-Eliezer, the prime minister was almost certain to delay his plans to meet with two senior Palestinian
Authority officials in the wake of the latest spate of attacks, Israel Radio reported.
Israeli officials had suggested Saturday that Sharon was willing to meet two new PA ministers - Yehiyeh and Finance
Minister Salam Fayad.
Sharon has not met with top Palestinian officials for months, although Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has held several
meetings recently with top-level PA officials, including Yehiyeh and Fayad.
Army Radio had reported Saturday that the prime minister could meet with both Fayad and Yehiyeh by the start of the
week. The radio quoted officials in the prime minister's office as saying that Sharon intends to meet with Fayad and
Yehiyeh to discuss Palestinian Authority reforms.
Aides to the prime minister had said, however, that the meetings depended on the situation on the ground and would not
go ahead if there were any terror attacks.
Speaking Saturday on Voice of Palestine radio from the West Bank city of Ramallah, Yehiyeh said that he plans to hold
talks with Ben-Eliezer within the next few days on an Israeli pull-out from Palestinian cities in the West Bank. The two
are likely to meet Sunday or Monday.
"The withdrawal should be comprehensive," said Yehiyeh, whose appointment as interior minister and responsibility for
the security forces won approval by Israel and the United States. "We will not accept partial or limited withdrawal."
Ben-Eliezer said he would discuss an Israeli pullout from some areas whose security Palestinian forces will take over,
While the Palestinians are calling for the withdrawal of IDF troops and transfer of security control to Palestinian
forces to begin in Ramallah, Ben-Eliezer's plan calls for an experimental IDF withdrawal from areas in which relative
calm prevails, such as the Gaza Strip and West Bank cities including Jericho and possibly Bethlehem and Hebron.
According to the defense minister's plan, the more the Palestinians work to calm the tensions and deal with terrorist
infrastructure, the more measures Israel will take to ease restrictions on the civilian population, reduce the number of
troops in the cities, and, in the future, withdraw troops from Area A.
Yehiyeh is expected to travel to the United States as part of a Palestinian delegation next week for high-level meetings
with U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell. His meeting with Israeli officials is supposed to
precede his trip to Washington, scheduled for August 8.