You may have read about the discouraging news that Israel captured a female suicide bomber trying to cross into Israel from Gaza on June 20. This is discouraging because the current “period of quiet” is fragile, and because no one (except some violent extremists) wants to see the renewal of violence just as moves toward disengagement kick into high gear.
But more than this, the provenance of the foiled bomber, 21-year old, Wafa al-Bas, is discouraging. She was not sent by the radical Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, which in recent weeks had openly said it is not adhering to the agreed “period of calm.” She was not even sent by the main Islamist terror group Hamas, which theoretically is adhering to it, but may at any time find an excuse to change its mind if the leadership thinks it will help the organisation politically. She was sent by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the terror division of PA head Mahmoud Abbas’s own Fatah party, showing that Abbas either cannot or will not deliver quiet even from his own party.
But even this was not the worst of it. Ms. al-Bas arrived at the Erez crossing with several kilos of explosive sewn into her underwear, but also something else to facilitate her mission — permission to enter Israel for medical treatment. Ms. al-Bas was badly burned in a cooking accident when a gas cylinder in her home exploded last year. As a humanitarian gesture, Israel agreed to treat her for her injuries at the Soroka medical centre in Beer Sheva, and she received extensive treatment in December and January. She was scheduled to go back to Soroka on June 20 for a follow up consultation, but the al-Aqsa Brigades recruited her to use the visit to carry out a suicide attack. Specifically, she was to blow herself up in a “crowded area of the hospital” that had treated her. Moreover, as she told Israeli television (in an interview after her capture), she had hoped to kill 40 to 50 people, including as many young people as possible in order to avenge Mohammed al-Dura, the Palestinian boy killed during the first days of the intifada in 2000. Fortunately, security screening equipment at the Erez crossing detected the explosives, and her attempt to blow herself up at the crossing was unsuccessful.
Nor is this the first time Palestinian terror groups have exploited supposed medical needs to carry out murder. In March, Israel arrested a Hamas fugitive who had made his way from Gaza to the West Bank by claiming he was travelling to be a kidney donor. He planned to carry out a suicide attack from his new base in Ramallah. Last December, Israel arrested two men, one from Hamas and one from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, each of whom separately tried to cross into Israel to carry out bombings with fake papers claiming they were travelling for hospital treatment.
Of course, what is most shocking about the al-Bas case is not the bloodthirsty ingratitude of al-Bas (in the television interview, after initial bravado, she later broke down and seemed to regret her actions), but the lack of concern of her dispatchers for Palestinian welfare. Israel is, of course, going to have to look more closely at medical treatment in Israel for Palestinians, inconvenience those crossing for treatment, and probably do less of it. The Palestinian sick and injured will unfortunately pay the biggest price for this. But this does not appear to have even been a consideration — the terrorists saw an opportunity to murder Israelis, and they seized it regardless. It is clear that for the Palestinian terrorists, the war against Israel is truly total- killing the Israeli enemy is not everything, it’s the only thing. And this above all is why the terror groups have to be dismantled and disarmed, as the roadmap demands. You cannot have peace, or even temporary quiet, as long as the Palestinian side contains groups whose whole existence is about killing Israelis, even if it means sending hospital patients to blow up their benefactors.
No Conspiracy too wild
It remains the case that the Middle Eastern media is a living demonstration of how far conspiratorial thinking can go if left unchecked. Among the most predictable elements of the whole affair is the inevitable accusation, somewhere, that any Arab or Muslim violence or atrocity is really a secret plot by Westerners or Israelis. But sometimes it is amazing how pervasive and bizarre such thinking is. The latest example is in a June 17 editorial in Egypt’s al-Akhbar, one of the most influential papers in the Arab world, and one under direct government control. It stated [all translations in this item by the Middle East Media Research Institute — www.memri.org]:
“All the evidence proves that Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi is working for America, because his victims are Iraqis and not [members of] the coalition forces under the command of the American occupation forces in Iraq. Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s official title is ‘leader of al-Qaeda’s faction in Iraq.’ Osama bin Laden is the commander of the al-Qaeda organisation, and this proves that [bin Laden, has [also] been an American agent ever since he operated against the USSR forces in Afghanistan in favour of the Americans!”
Then there was the Egyptian history professor Zaynab Abd al-Aziz, who told Saudi Arabia’s Iqra-TV on May 26, that not only did the US attack itself on Sept. 11, 2001, but that it did so at the behest of the World Council of Churches, which was carrying out a plan to destroy all Muslims hatched at the Vatican II Council.
Professor al-Aziz stated:
“The decisions of the 1965 Vatican Council included, first of all, absolving the Jews of the blood of Christ. This decision is well known and was the basis for the recognition of the occupying Zionist entity – Israel. The second decision was to eradicate the left in the eighties. I believe we’ve all witnessed this. The third decision was to eradicate Islam… John Paul II prepared a five-year plan, on the eve of the third millennium, [to] Christianise the world. …Since the plan was not accomplished, the World Council of Churches assigned this mission to the US in January 2001, since the US is the world’s unrivaled military power… When in January 2001, the World Council of Churches delegated this mission to the US – what did the US do? It fabricated the show of… is it September 9 or 11?”
This nonsense is simply beyond parody.