Israeli-Palestinian violence shows no signs of abating,
despite repeated international calls for a cease-fire. The
renewed fighting comes as Israeli officials consider how to
respond to the report of a U.S.-led Mitchell Commission
investigating the violence, which officials hope can serve
as the basis for a cease-fire.
On Monday, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on the Jerusalem
neighborhood of Gilo from a nearby West Bank village,
injuring four Israelis, the largest number of civilians hurt
in a single attack since Gilo first came under Palestinian
fire seven months ago. Israeli tanks and troops returned the
heavy Palestinian fire.
The most seriously injured was Hoda Salama, 54, an Arab who
was hit in the lower abdomen while she was in her apartment
on Rechov Margalit. Three other civilians were lightly
Calling the shooting a "definite escalation," Jerusalem
police chief Commander Mickey Levy said security officials
had intelligence information that Palestinians would open
heavy fire on Gilo on Monday ahead of Tuesday's Nakba
Israeli Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishky said that
while no mortars have yet been fired at Israeli targets from
the West Bank, Israel has information that such weaponry has
been transferred to the area. And in the Gaza Strip, Israeli
troops shot dead two Palestinians after a grenade attack.
Sunday night Israeli troops killed five Palestinian security
officers near Ramallah after detecting what the Israel
Defense Force termed "suspicious activity." The Palestinian
Authority denied the five were involved in hostile actions
and demanded an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council
to address the Israeli action.
The Palestinian representative at the UN, Nasser el-Kidwa,
formally requested that the Security Council meet urgently
to discuss the escalation of violence in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip, blaming the Israelis for hindering the peace
Local roads have come under fire nearly every night.
Sunday night Israeli air and naval forces bombarded
Palestinian security targets in Gaza, destroying a number of
buildings and several armored personnel carriers, in
retaliation for repeated Palestinian mortar attacks over the
weekend on Israeli communities in Gaza and inside Israel.
The next morning, a large bomb was discovered next to a bus
stop on the main street in the Israeli city of Petach Tikva.
The device, which had been placed inside a bag, exploded
while a bomb disposal unit was trying to neutralize it. The
explosion damaged surrounding stores but caused no
Also on Monday, shooting took place on the Lebanese border
between Hizbullah gunmen and the IDF.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called the continued
violence "very disturbing."
An official close to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel
would accept the Mitchell Commission's findings, with two
reservations. The official said Israel would reject the
panel's call for a settlement freeze and its criticism of
the Israeli military response to Palestinian attacks.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres reportedly has advised Sharon
that Israel should adopt the entire report, as it might
serve as a foundation for resuming negotiations with the
The main sticking point for Israel is the report's linkage
of the settlement issue and Palestinian violence. Regardless
of these points, Israel will accept the basic guidelines of
the report, specifically that there be an immediate
cessation of violence, a cooling-off period, confidence-
building measures, and then a restart of the negotiations.
Israeli officials say that these stages are meant to be
gradual and sequential, while Palestinians are expected to
demand that they take place simultaneously.
Israel interprets the cooling-off period as a period to test
whether the cease-fire is being honored. One senior source
in the Prime Minister's Office said that Sharon is thinking
in terms of six to eight months.
Dore Gold, in a paper that came out on Tuesday entitled
"Untenable Linkages: Tying a Cessation of Palestinian
Violence to an Israeli Settlement Freeze," argues that while
violence is explicitly rejected in the Oslo Accords, there
is no prohibition on building in the settlements.
According to Gold, linkage policies that tie a cessation of
Palestinian violence to a settlement freeze pose "three
serious problems: a) rewarding violence, b) rewarding Oslo
noncompliance, and c) prejudicing Israel's claims to secure
Gold, in the paper published by the Jerusalem Center for
Public Affairs (which he chairs), wrote that the critical
question for the post-intifadah period will be how Arafat
responds when he reaches his first negotiating deadlock with
The US has consistently deemed settlement activity
disruptive and harmful to the peace process. However, as
part of its overall response to the Mitchell report, a
senior official said the US' views on construction to
accommodate natural population increase will be made public
in roughly a week, suggesting that the US may be amenable to
allowing settlement expansion only within the three major
West Bank settlement blocs, but against growth in smaller,
more remote settlements.