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http://www3.haaretz.co.il/eng/scripts/show_katava.asp?id=28949&mador=4&datee=9/28/98:w

Ha'aretz, September 28, 1998

When the Terror Really Began

By Danny Rubinstein

 

Ever since the ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Oslo agreement, the Prime Minister's Office has been publicizing depressing figures on the number of victims of Palestinian terror. According to these figures, 279 Israelis have been killed in terrorist incidents since September 13, 1993, the day on which the agreement was signed, as opposed to 254 who were killed in such incidents during the 15 years preceding the agreement.These grim statistics indicate that, since Oslo, the number of terror victims in Israel has increased by several hundred percentage points in contrast to the pre-Oslo period. These figures give the impression that it is the Oslo agreement that has led to the increase in Palestinian terror and to the sharp rise in the number of its victims. In other words, the individuals who signed the Oslo agreement are being accused of having made a grave error that has brought about disastrous results.

Obviously, one cannot argue with solid facts. Nonetheless, the compilers of these statistics in the PMO have admitted that they decided to exclude victims of terrorist attacks that were carried out by terrorists who "came from abroad," primarily Lebanon. Thus, for example, the victims of the coastal-road bus attack and other such incidents have not been included. That decision does skew the figures somewhat, but not enough to conceal the clear fact that, during the five years since the signing of the Oslo agreement, there has been a very sharp increase in the number of Israeli victims of terrorism.

Can the Oslo agreement really be regarded as a turning point in terms of terrorism? Can it be seen as a sort of watershed event, marking the advent of an unprecedented wave of deadly attacks?

One could attempt to look for a different "landmark" date such as, for example, the day in 1994 on which Baruch Goldstein carried out the mass murder of 29 Moslem worshippers in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Six months separate the signing of the Oslo agreement and the massacre in the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Although this is a relatively brief period, a close look at terrorist activities during those six months leads to the unavoidable conclusion that the Oslo agreement did not directly produce a significant rise in the number of terror victims. In the six-month period following the signing of the agreement, 16 Israelis were killed in attacks launched by Palestinian terrorists. Nearly the identical number of Israelis - 15 to be precise - were killed by Palestinians in the six months that preceded Oslo.

In other words, in the six-month period preceding Oslo and in the six-month period following Oslo, the security situation was almost identical. Most of the victims of these two periods were Israeli soldiers serving in the territories. The prominent elements in the immediate pre-Oslo period were knifings and the murder of Israeli vegetable merchants in Gaza. The most prominent element in the immediate post-Oslo period was the murder of the Lapid family near Kiryat Arba, which surpassed in its severity any previous terrorist attack on Israeli civilians. [It was also the event that apparently triggered Goldstein's rampage.]

In light of the above, one can safely conclude that the true watershed in the pattern of Palestinian terrorism was not the Oslo agreement, but the massacre in the Tomb of the Patriarchs. In addition to the worshippers gunned down by Goldstein, another 20 Palestinians were killed during that period in incidents in Hebron and in other communities. The mass murder in the Tomb is the event that directly and immediately created the chain of suicide bombings and the appalling upward spiral composed of Israeli responses and Palestinian counter-responses, a spiral in which the number of Israeli victims has reached unprecedented "heights."

Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and extreme leftist Palestinian groups opposed to Oslo carried out a number of attacks after the agreement was signed in order to sabotage it. However, the impact of these attacks on the peace process was negligible. In contrast, the terrorist attack that had the most serious implications for the Oslo agreement was actually launched by an Israeli - Baruch Goldstein - who, before carrying out the massacre, told his friends and associates that he was going to commit an act that would entirely change the situation in the Middle East.

He succeeded.

We will never know what would have been the face of Palestinian terror if the Goldstein massacre had never taken place. Nonetheless, it is crystal-clear that the horrific wave of terror we have witnessed in recent years was generated not by the Oslo agreement but rather by Goldstein, who tried to sabotage that agreement. The mass murder he carried out has been the real turning-point in the pattern of Palestinian terrorism.

The statistics issued by the PMO are manipulative. To all those who wish to imply that the signers and supporters of the Oslo agreement are responsible for the massive escalation of Palestinian terror, the following reply should be given: It is the opponents of Oslo - Goldstein and his cohorts - who have created this ghastly chain of terror.

 

 

(c) copyright 1998 Ha'aretz. All Rights Reserved


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