Violence in the territories is likely to continue for many
months, and probably through next year, according to several
recent assessments made public in recent days. The Israel
Defense Forces' said on Monday that the Palestinian attacks
were unlikely to end soon and also that the Lebanon front
could heat up again soon. Israel has still not managed to
form a government to deal with the situation.
A separate assessment made at a court hearing on the release
of Palestinians arrested for various acts of violence made by
the police also said that clashes were liable to continue for
some time, and even though they have subsided they may flare
up again any day. The police argued against the release of
the suspects on bail.
The chances of a full-scale regional war are considered low,
but the IDF has nevertheless decided to fill gaps in its
stockpiles of war material.
The IDF opinion was that if diplomatic negotiations resume,
there might be a hiatus in the current disturbances, but the
violence is likely to erupt again after any such lull. The
army did not assess the likelihood of such negotiations
resuming, which is out of their immediate area of concern.
The opinion of the IDF general staff is that hostile parties
in Lebanon, whether Palestinians or Hizbullah, may soon join
the fighting with the backing of either or both Syria and
Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz believes the chances of a
multifront regional war have declined in the wake of the Arab
League summit this weekend. Nevertheless, the chances of such
a war are higher than they were a month ago.
In internal security establishment discussions last week,
meanwhile, the coordinator of government activities in the
territories, Major General Yaakov Or, suggested that Israel
issue arrest warrants for all those who have instigated
violence against Israel, such as Marwan Barghouti, the head
of the Tanzim militias in the West Bank. This would make it
harder for them to move freely in the territories, since any
trip through Israeli-controlled territory would risk
Yesterday marked the ninth straight day of shooting at
Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood in the south from the
Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Jala which faces it. For the
first time, tanks responded to the shooting at 7:15 p.m. with
fire from their heavy machine guns and later with several
shells aimed at the sources of the fire. Up until Monday, the
IDF had exhibited extreme restraint. They fired at targets
only after warning Palestinians to get out of the way.
Ha'aretz military analyst Zeev Schiff wrote that the
IDF has military solutions for situations like that in Gilo,
but there apparently has been a decision not to use them. He
did not detail the solutions, but said that the failure to do
so lowers the morale and reputation of the army.
Discussions about forming an emergency government continue,
but Prime Minister Barak seems no less able to form that kind
of government than a regular one. His proposals are vague and
there is broad opposition from all points on the political
spectrum to joining such a government, despite the obvious
need for one. The situation as it stands is that Barak stands
at the head of less than a third of the Knesset, and can get
little accomplished. The Knesset is to resume sessions after
a three month recess next week.