The terror attack by a Palestinian homicide bomber, who intentionally targeted Israeli citizens in the southern seaside resort of Eilat on Monday January 29, 2007, should be vehemently condemned.
Three Israeli civilians were cut down by the terrorist with an 8-kilogram bomb strapped to his body; Emil Almaliah, 32, married and father of a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son and Michael Ben-Sa'adon, 26, married and father of a baby boy, co-owned the neighbourhood “Lehamim Bakery”. The third victim Israel Smuliah, also 26, had settled in Israel from Peru and began working at the bakery only a few days prior to the attack in order to supplement his income.
The victims of terror who died that morning were added to the names of more than 1,129 Israeli men, women and children killed by Palestinian violence and terrorism since September 2000, the outbreak of the Second Intifada.
It is ironic that only a couple of weeks ago Israeli Prime Minister Olmert extended a gesture of goodwill and co-operation to the Palestinian people by transferring US$100 million dollars to the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, after having already eased checkpoint conditions.
Yet as Israel buried these young victims of terror, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a branch of President Abbas’ Fatah party, proudly celebrated its part in the attack.
It has become alarmingly difficult to make a distinction between the Palestinian Authority, who mouth a line of moderation and Hamas, the duly elected Palestinian Government, who make no qualms about their dedication to the destruction of the State of Israel.
The motivation behind the attack, broadcast as part of a well-oiled terrorist public relations campaign, is appalling and sickening. Israeli citizens have been killed to deflect attention away from the fierce Palestinian civil-war in the Gaza Strip.
Islamic Jihad, the other terrorist group who claimed responsibility for the attack, posted a statement on its web site saying that it had engineered the bombing in an attempt to “focus Palestinians' attention away from killing each other”. With reports now rife that the ceasefire declared seemingly daily is in tatters, the question that begs to be asked is: how can Israel be expected to make peace with a people who are so divided and sustained by violence, they cannot even keep peace among themselves?
It has become abundantly clear that it is not on President Abbas’ agenda to develop a peaceful co-existence with Israel. During a rally on January 11, in the context of urging Palestinians to end internal warfare, Abbas said, “Let a thousand flowers bloom and let our rifles, all our rifles, all our rifles, be aimed at the occupation”.
He was not only fuelling the terrorist flames, but also once again signalled to Israel and to others who might be prepared to hear what is being said, that he is completely insincere in his rejection of violence, and has demonstrated his commitment to undermining diplomatic efforts to resolve the differences between all parties to the conflict.
Even in the face of terror, Israel maintains a commendable policy of restraint. In response to the terrorist attack, Israeli Foreign Minister Livni said to journalists in Jerusalem, "Israel has shown extraordinary restraint in order to give the Palestinians an opportunity to fight terror and stop the attacks. Unfortunately the Palestinians failed to stop them."
Finally it is crucial to note that the January 29 terrorist attack was an infiltration via the Egyptian border, where an intricate series of tunnels have been created by terrorist networks to facilitate the smuggling of both people and weaponry.
Israel continuously finds itself alone on this terror front due to blatant Egyptian indifference and this is so despite Egyptian commitments to border security which were fundamental to the complete withdrawal of all Israeli settlements and military bases from Gaza. The last major infiltration from Gaza was the cross-border kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in which two of his fellow soldiers were killed.
More than seven months have passed since the unprovoked abduction of Gilad Shalit on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza on June 25, 2006 (followed shortly by the murderous cross border raid by Hezbollah that saw Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser kidnapped from the Israeli side of the Lebanese border on July 12, 2006).
The terrorists are holding Gilad, Ehud and Eldad against their will and denying them the most basic of human rights as enshrined in the Geneva Convention. The Australian and international community must exert pressure on the terrorists and the regimes that support and fund them to bring about their immediate release, so that they may be returned to their families and country.