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February 26, 2005
Israel And Palestinians Quick To Blame Hezbollah

Both Israeli and Palestinian security forces have made arrests this morning from the Tel Aviv suicide bombing yesterday that killed four and injured dozens. The BBC reports that both sides blame Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terror group with a vested interest in disrupting the peace process, but the details buried in the report appear to dispute that notion:

Israeli troops and Palestinian police have arrested seven people in connection with Friday's suicide bombing outside a Tel Aviv nightclub.

Israeli soldiers detained five people near the West Bank town of Tulkarem, including two brothers of the man identified as the suicide bomber.

Palestinian police separately arrested two people over the blast, which killed four people and injured about 30. ...

Mr Abbas blamed a "third party" but went no further.

Other Palestinian officials have blamed Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant organisation. All the Palestinian militant groups have denied responsibility.

As the BBC notes, blaming Hezbollah would solve a lot of problems for both sides. It has become obvious that Ariel Sharon wants to get out of the occupation and the endless war it has provided, and he has grasped at the first person outside of Yasser Arafat to rise to the top of the Palestinian food chain in order to do that. Abbas wants to retain international credibility for as long as possible, either because he sincerely wants peace or to run the usual Palestinian triangle offense a bit longer and ensure that condemnation falls on the Israelis for the failure of diplomacy. Hezbollah makes a very convenient patsy for all concerned.

However, that may not square up with the facts on the ground. The Palestinians identified the bomber as Abdullah Badran -- who happened to belong to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which reports Abbas' own Fatah faction. The Palestinians claim that he and his brothers, two of the five whom the Israelis arrested, had been co-opted by Hezbollah, which Hezbollah denies. The two men the Palestinians caught have been described by one source to the BBC as members of Islamic Jihad.

It could be possible that Hezbollah conducted this suicide bombing to undermine Abbas, but with its position increasingly under threat in Beirut by a sweeping wave of nationalism, one has to question whether Hezbollah really has Abbas high up on its list of priorities at the moment. Hezbollah had always been more interested in keeping Israel out of Lebanon and fighting border skirmishes rather than conducting suicide operations in Tel Aviv. Picking this fight could have the strategy of attempting to draw Israeli retaliation in Lebanon in order to strengthen the Syrian claim that they need to remain in Lebanon for the latter's protection, but again, suicide bombings haven't usually been Hezbollah's style. If they conducted this attack, it would have to be to undermine Abbas and maybe also Sharon, and that's a far stretch for anyone.

It appears much more likely to me that Abbas does not have the loyalty of his own security forces, let alone much juice with the terrorist groups that the Palestinians so enthusiastically supported in local elections last month. Whether Abbas truly wants peace or not, apparently his fellow Palestinians do not.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 26, 2005 7:21 AM

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It's an old story. An Israeli nightclub crowded with young people is targeted by a Palestinian suicide bomber. Four people die and more than 50 are injured. But this is also a new story because for the first time in [Read More]

Tracked on February 26, 2005 9:55 AM

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