Gerald M. Steinberg writes:
The successful Israeli responses to Palestinian strategic use of terror and asymmetric warfare are already being studied by the armed forces of the world’s other democracies.
At its height, in March 2002, the terror campaign killed over 140 Israelis in a month, and severely wounded hundreds more. Palestinian leaders who viewed Israeli society as too weak to respond with the necessary force, mistakenly assumed that this carnage would escalate, and Israel would be forced to retreat and eventually surrender. Instead, by 2004, terror casualties were reduced to about 100 deaths for the entire year, and over 80% of attacks were aborted en route, essentially marking Arafat’s defeat.
This accomplishment can be credited to five key dimensions, acting together: 1. Highly advanced intelligence capabilities;
2. Precision-guided weapons for preventive targeted attacks against terrorists;
3. Isolation of the political leaders (Arafat);
4. Extensive perimeter defense;
5. A motivated and resilient civilian population, which continues to identify closely with the IDF. After generations of Palestinian incitement, violence, and rejection of any “Zionist” historical rights, the hope that restrained Israeli responses to war and terror would lead to political compromise and mutual acceptance remains a messianic dream.When Arafat and his colleagues returned to terrorism to achieve their goals, they had good reason to believe that Israeli society was too weak to defend its independence and core interests. Terror appeared to be the most effective means of gaining Israeli concessions through international intervention, and without the need for Palestinian acceptance of the rights of the Jewish people to sovereign equality and independence.Four years later, the terror groups are in disarray, Palestinian economic gains achieved under the Oslo framework are gone, and the political achievements that Arafat rejected in 2000 are no longer within reach.