OPINION: LIVING BY THE SWORD

Netanyahu warns Hamas: As long as you continue to murder our children, you'll find no safe haven anywhere

On September 25, Hamas Jordan politburo head Khaled Mashaal survived an apparent attempt to assassinate him on the streets of the Jordanian capital, Amman. Two "Canadian tourists" were arrested after they allegedly injected a substance into the man's ear. As the dust cleared, accusations began to fly. Canada was incensed about the misuse of its passports; Jordan slated Israel for carrying out what appeared to be a botched Mossad operation on Jordanian territory; Hamas fumed; the US fretted; and world media voiced moral outrage at what they called "state-sponsored terrorism".

Left-wing Israeli commentators joined the fray, seizing the opportunity to attack the government. The Hebrew-language tabloid Ma'ariv, for example, whose pages have splashed in full gory colour the bloody results of Hamas atrocities, called the incident "an irresponsible macho act of stupidity ..."(Oct 5).

Lost in the self-righteous fug were several pertinent points:

r Mashaal is responsible for Hamas' "military operations"--Hamaspeak for blowing apart young girls' bodies on the streets of Jerusalem. According to published reports, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had established that he was directly connected to the most recent two suicide bombings in the capital. Israel's Cabinet announced on October 6 that he was considered "responsible for the murder of innocent Israeli civilians". Mashaal may have been the target of a hitsquad, but he was certainly no victim.

r When Hamas officials in the Palestinian Authority-ruled areas recently raised the possibility of suspending terrorism, the Jordanian-based leadership objected on the grounds that without terror, there was no justification for Hamas (The Jerusalem Post, Oct 5).

r Israel has for decades adopted the approach that the only way to disable terror groups is to strike at key figures. That this may offend sensibilities in some Western capitals--particularly those whose leaders have traditionally capitulated to terrorism--is hardly a consideration.

r Jordan may be Israel's most reliable Arab peace partner, but its government has continued to allow Hamas to operate with impunity there.

Every security service in the world uses unpalatable methods when the country's self-defence is at stake. In Israel's case, this is not a matter of some vaguely-defined threat. There are human bombs walking about.

In his first public statement following the Mashaal affair, an unapologetic Netanyahu said: "Our war on terrorism is tough and continual and--unfortunately--bloody. The minute terrorists think they can get away with it, they will. We won't let them get away with it."

Another unpleasant but unavoidable reality is that most spy services also use false documentation when necessary. While Canada's ire is understandable, a little perspective may be in order. As former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir noted on October 6: "More emotion was spent over the passports than over the spilling of innocent blood in suicide bombings on Israeli streets."


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