Friday, April 21, 2006

The suicide bombing this week at the Shawarma in south Tel Aviv claimed the usual set of victims: the security man, standing in the entrance; a taxi driver, stopping to grab something to eat; a Romanian immigrant worker; a man who covered his children with his body; and five others. The area is popular with suicide bombers; it's easier to get to, and not so much security, not like in the big malls. It's an area of pound-shops, fake-cds, cheap bargains and "massage parlors". A Hammas spokesperson called it 'self-defence' and this statement made even less sense than the IDF description of the shelling of Palestinian civilans as 'preventetive mesures'. How can a suicide bombing be 'self-defence'? more like 'self-attack'.

Haaretz says that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of suicide-bombing attempts in recent months. Various explanations are suggested: e.g. Fateh feel that they can go back to military actions, now that Hamas are in charge (but Fateh have not resumed suicide bombing yet); or 'orders' from Damascus, money from Iran, channeled to the Islamic Jihad, who were behind this attack. It's easy to point to outside elements, but I think that it's lame.

What Israeli 'security analysts' consistently fail to understand is that these operations require a high level of support and assistance. Probably not all involved know that it's for suicide bombing - and the where and when - but all the same they help, by giving a shelter, supplying food or whatever. These organizations are not regular armies: very few people make a living out of it. This is why they depend, very critically, on the attitude of of their societies to their actions. A lot of people need to help out. So if at the moment there are three times more attempts than last year, this means that something in Palestinian society has changed. The lull of the last 15 months is about to end.

I will stress that I am writing from London. Therefore I might be missing on some things, or getting the wrong picture. But seeing things from a distance helps sometimes, some things become clearer.

So I believe that we are on the eve of another Intifada in the West Bank. It can happen in a month or in six months. The question is what shape it will take, and what will be its focus. The worst would be a wave of suicide bombings - worst for Palestinians because it will only strengthen the unilateralist direction of Israel. But there are other options. It might be centred around the Wall, or Jerusalem. 'Popular Intifada' like the 1987 one, or the early stage of September 2000 - these demand great masses of people to risk themselves by confroting the Israeli Army. It usually takes a trigger (like the Sharon visit to the Haram) If the Hammas-led PA is brought to its knees, this might be it.


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