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March 22, 2006
That Wall May Come In Handy After All

According to speculation among security officials from both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, al-Qaeda has begun to infiltrate Gaza and the West Bank in an attempt to open a new front in the war on terror. Both have reason for concern over this development, but while the Palestinians continue to elect terrorists to office, Israel continues to provide an effective defense against them:

Signs are mounting that al-Qaida terrorists are setting their sights on Israel and the Palestinian territories as their next jihad battleground.

Israel has indicted two West Bank militants for al-Qaida membership, Egypt arrested operatives trying to cross into Israel and a Palestinian security official has acknowledged al-Qaida is "organizing cells and gathering supporters." ...

Palestinians in the West Bank, the
Gaza Strip and Lebanon have established contacts with al-Qaida followers linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in
Iraq, according to two Israeli officials.

Al-Zarqawi has established footholds in the countries neighboring Israel — Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan — and is interested in bringing his fight to Israel, too, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because Israel does not want to identify those involved in the issue.

This development could mean a number of things, not all of them bad. If Zarqawi wants to transition to the occupied territories, it may mean that he has given up on the long-term fight in Iraq. The destruction of the Askariya mosque in Samarra may have been his best shot at provoking a real civil war, one which would split the nascent army and security forces and generate all-out warfare. With that event having passed with an increase in body counts but no change in the American presence in Iraq, and with the turf war between native insurgents and his foreign band of terrorists going poorly, he may want to find friendlier ground. What better place than the PA, where voters have already selected Islamist terrorists as their governing body?

If it takes pressure off of the Iraqis, it also takes some pressure off of the Israelis as well. The IDF usually has to fight terrorism while shackled by the reliably ineffective diplomacy of Europe and the US. If AQ starts making itself a major part of the terrorist operations that Islamic Jihad still launches from Palestinian territory, then the US might well join the Israelis in tackling AQ and Zarqawi. It also provides a great excuse to complete the work on the wall; after all, if Hamas can't secure their areas and disarm the terrorists (starting with their own, but especially AQ), then Israel can't be expected to leave the border areas open.

Also, not to wish any more troubles on the Israelis, but they understand how to fight terrorism. They have faced two intifadas for the effort they gave in trying to make Yasser Arafat a negotiating partner, and the combination of targeted strikes on terrorist leaders and the defensive wall they built put an end to them. They have better intelligence in the territories than we get in Iraq (although that's greatly improved), and Zarqawi will find it difficult to maneuver in this much-smaller area.

If the Palestinians were smart, they would take whatever steps necessary to keep AQ out of their territory. However, if the Palestinians were smart, they would have signed off on Ehud Barak's offer and had their own state by now.

UPDATE: Great minds think alike, or at least Dafydd ab Hugh and I do.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 22, 2006 6:23 PM

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