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August 3, 2005
Islamic Jihad's Bad Aim A National Scandal: PA

Now we know what it takes to get Palestinian terrorists to stop killing Israelis long enough to allow them to withdraw from the Gaza Strip -- terrorists with bad aim killing Palestinian children. Islamic Jihad announced that it will observe a cease-fire intended to allow Israel time to get out of Gaza after they killed a 5-year-old Palestinian boy in a botched missile attack in Beit Hanoun:

A major Palestinian militant group promised Wednesday it would fire no more rockets at Israelis during Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, after a barrage inadvertently killed a 5-year-old Palestinian boy. ...

There was no claim of responsibility for the assault Tuesday night, which was aimed at a large gathering of Israeli withdrawal opponents in the town of Sderot just over the Gaza border.

Instead, the rudimentary rockets hit a house in the Palestinian town of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, killing the 5-year-old and wounding 10 other people, including six children. Four are children of a former Palestinian Cabinet minister, Hisham Abdel Razek, a senior official in the ruling Fatah party.

Neither Islamic Jihad nor Hamas would take responsibility for the botched attack, but IJ had spent the past few months defying the cease-fire as part of the triangle strategy I've described often here at CQ. That allows two of the three main terrorist factions -- IJ, Hamas, and Fatah -- to endorse cease-fire agreements while the third ignores them. When Israel responds in kind, then the other two blame Israel for violating the cease fire and begin attacking again. This strategy has played itself out more regularly than Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, and yet people routinely take the Palestinians seriously when they pronounce their willingness to stop terrorist attacks on Israeli buses, pizzerias, and so on.

The Palestinian Authority singled out this one incident for particularly harsh criticism. Cabinet minister Mohammed Dahlan stated:

"What took place last night is a national scandal," Dahlan said. "This is unfortunately not the first time that Palestinian victims are being killed. ... We should put an end to this by any means, by force, or by pursuing and convincing."

The Palestinian minister makes the argument, therefore, that only those terrorist attacks that kill Palestinians by accident, rather than ones that kill Israeli civilians on purpose, qualify as a "national scandal". The scandal appears to involve the aim and training of the terrorists rather than the attacks themselves.

Do the world and the US propose these leaders at partners for peace, as the basis for a stable sovereign government? From their actions and rhetoric, it appears that all we're getting is a secular Taliban, or a Ba'ath regime without the ideology, that intends on providing aid and shelter to terrorists -- as long as their aim improves.

UPDATE: The peace didn't last long. IJ now denies it will honor any cease-fire:

Official Islamic Jihad sources on Wednesday denied a news report that quoted the organization as having foresworn Qassam rocket attacks until after the completion of the disengagement. ...

[Islamic] Jihad agreed to a truce earlier this year but it has since been behind a number of deadly attacks, including a suicide bombing in Netanya last month.

Israel should remain on high alert and respond to IJ provocations, as necessary. Palestinians, meanwhile, should learn to duck.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 3, 2005 12:30 PM

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