Tuesday, June 21, 2005

And Thus We Have Our Predicament

Perhaps more than anything else, this story illustrates the predicament Israel finds itself in when trying to fight terrorism:
A badly burned Palestinian woman was alternately defiant and tearful Monday after Israeli soldiers caught her trying to enter Israel with 22 pounds of explosives hidden on her body.

The woman, who suffered serious burns on her hands, feet and neck in a kitchen explosion five months ago, had been granted permission to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip for medical treatment when she raised the suspicion of soldiers at the Erez checkpoint.

Video released by the military showed 21-year-old Wafa al-Biss taking off articles of clothing on the orders of soldiers searching for explosives, and rubbing her disfigured neck with her burned hands and screaming.

The military said she tried to blow up the explosives Monday but failed and was not injured.

The layers of difficulty present here are astounding. As the article says, something caught the soldiers interest, that led them to conduct a search. These sorts of hunches, however, are not sure bets. Imagine, for a moment, if the soldiers had guessed wrong. What would have been in the news, instead, would be stories about how Israeli soldiers strip-searched a burn victim on her way to humanitarian treatment. The world would have gone nuts. Israel knows this, and I bet money the soldiers know it too, which makes them politically brave as well militarily so.

The worst part is that Palestinian terror groups can continue to try to pierce Israeli defenses in this manner. Their use of Red Crescent trucks as arms smugglers is well documented, this is just the next logical step. If they are really clever, they will send alot of decoy persons into Israel with nothing on that at all, and reap the international backlash that occurs when folks in France see a poor, defenseless, burn victim being searched by the IDF. Then, when Israel begins to relent, they can sneak in real bombers under the net. To the media, it's "just another" suicide attack, to Israel it's another 20 dead teenagers, and to Hamas it's a successful tactic.

As long as the lens isn't cast on terrorist groups, showcasing the brutality of their terror and not giving them cover of political legitimacy, such tactics will continue to be used, and used successfully. This attack may have been foiled, but I fear in that respect it may have been the aberration, not the norm.

Link, Sullivan by way of Cole.

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