Late last week, as the U.S. media ran story after story describing the relatively upbeat tone of Thursday’s meeting between President Bush and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, an Op-Ed ran in the Jerusalem Post which provides a sobering postscript to the White House talks.
The article, written by columnist Michael Freund, broached a disturbing topic that has been largely ignored by the mainstream media in the United States: the reality that since the Oslo peace process began 12 years ago, more than 50 American citizens have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists in suicide bombings, shootings and other attacks. But none of the killers, according to Mr. Freund, have been brought to justice.
Three of these Americans — John Branchizio, 37, of Texas, John Linde Jr., 30, of Missouri; and Mark Parsons, 31, of New Jersey — died in an Oct. 15, 2003 bombing of a U.S. diplomatic convoy travelling in Gaza. The perpetrators used a remote-controlled explosive device which they activated once the Americans were in range. The vehicles, all of which had diplomatic license plates, were traveling on a road that had been closed to Israeli traffic. In other words, this was no case of mistaken identity; the killers knew that they were targeting Americans and they killed them. Moreover, in the weeks leading up to that attack, the Palestinian media intensified anti-American incitement, which included calls for the destruction of the United States and denunciations of this country as Palestinians’ “No. 1 enemy.”
The organization believed responsible for the Oct. 15, 2003 attack calls itself the Popular Resistance Committees — in reality, it is a mix of terrorists affiliated with Hamas, the Syrian-backed and Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Mr. Abbas’s own Fatah organization. After intense pressure from Washington, PA security forces arrested several PRC members but eventually released them. Asked about the slayings last week, PRC spokesman Mohamed Abdel-Al denied that his group had been involved in targeting Americans. But Mr. Abdel-Al (speaking five weeks after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal of Israeli soldiers and civilians had been completed) took “credit” for firing rockets from Gaza into Israel in an interview on the John Batchelor Show. Mr. Abdel-Al said his goal was to kill Mr. Sharon and that the PRC had already smuggled rocket technology into the West Bank in order to target Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Eight days ago, Israelis once again witnessed the results of Mr. Abbas’s refusal to cooperate with Israel in preventing the West Bank and Gaza from becoming havens of anarchoterrorism, as three Israelis were gunned down while waiting for rides. The Palestinian media referred to the three as “settlers,” presumably justifying their deaths. With as many as 50-60,000 men in uniform, Mr. Abbas has more than ample firepower to move against the gangsters who have brought so much suffering to the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. But he lacks the political will. His continued political paralysis augurs poorly for the future.