- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 19, 2006

Tuesday’s Israeli raid which captured six terrorists at a prison in Jericho and the Western reaction to it signify a new, more serious response to terrorism in the post-September 11, post-Oslo era. During the 1993-2001 era of the “peace process” with Yasser Arafat, Israel (sometimes while under pressure from the Clinton administration) found reasons not to protest Arafat’s smuggling of terrorists into Gaza and found reasons not to take action when they were released from Arafat’s prisons.

Tuesday’s raids by the Israeli military remind us that those days are over. And the robust, vigorous efforts by the State Department and the British Foreign Office (particular credit goes to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw) to explain the decision to remove foreign monitors from the Jericho prison prior to the Israeli raid were a textbook example of how Western democracies should fight the public-diplomacy war against Islamofascism.

Briefly, here is the background of the imprisoned terrorists and the events that led to the Israel Defense Forces operation in Jericho on Tuesday: Five of the six men captured in the raid were members of the Syria-based PFLP terrorist organization. The five — PFLP General Secretary Ahmed Sa’adat and four other senior PFLP terrorist operatives — were involved in a series of bombings directed at Israeli civilian and industrial targets in 2001. Under Mr. Sa’adat’s direction, Israel charges, the PFLP ambushed and murdered Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi at the entrance to his room at the Hyatt Hotel in Jerusalem on Oct. 17, 2001. The sixth was Fuad Shubaki, who was involved in bankrolling terrorism, including the attempt by Iran to smuggle massive quantities of weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza in January 2002 aboard the Karine-A.

Since 2002, the men have been held in custody at the Jericho jail under an arrangement in which their imprisonment was to be supervised by American and British observers. According to a detailed account in the London Times, the six lived in luxury in the jail, using other inmates as servants and maintaining cell phones and computers and smoking imported cigars — in other words, the jail was protecting them from facing justice in Israeli courts. The American and British monitors were withdrawn in the wake of concerns over their protection from marauding Palestinians inside and outside the prison. Israeli forces moved in following statements by Hamas suggesting that Mr. Sa’adat, who campaigned successfully for parliament from his jail cell, would be released.

Unfortunately, the wave of rioting and kidnappings which followed Israel’s military action last Tuesday is just the latest example of the pathological behavior that has brought the Palestinian Arabs so much misery since the early 20th century.

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