Aug. 18, 2001 The Voice of the Times on Middle East tensions

Posted: Monday, August 20, 2001

Despite all efforts to find peace in the Middle East, every day brings more convincing signs that war -- real, all-out, no-holds-barred war -- is breaking out between Palestine and Israel.

How far it might escalate, and how widely it might spread, is beyond our ability to measure. But reading accounts from afar, it is evident that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is making no effort to rein in the relentless assaults by suicide bombers in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and elsewhere.

Two radical Palestinian groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have carried out dozens of bomb attacks against Israeli targets that have taken more than 130 Israeli civilian lives and wounded hundreds more -- men, women and children -- in the past few months. In retaliation, Israeli raids on Palestinian terrorist nests have taken the lives of more than 550 people, also including children.

With every Palestinian strike, there is a more powerful Israeli counterstrike to pressure Arafat to quit talking peace while abetting deadly terrorism. There can no longer be any doubt that Arafat is the key figure in all of this. Absent some kind of political change of heart, it likewise is clear that he soon will be -- personally and with cold calculation -- the target of Israel's final response to the terrorism he condones.

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