TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s announcement yesterday he will forge ahead with unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria in spite of violence in Lebanon and Gaza that followed similar evacuations amounts to a “victory for “Palestinian resistance” and proof the Jewish state can be destroyed, a senior terrorist leader here told WorldNetDaily in an interview.
“[We are in] the beginning of a new era in the region [that] will break the psychological wall in the idea that Israel is invincible,” said Abu Maamun, a senior leader in Jenin of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group.
The Brigades, the declared “military wing” of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, is responsible for scores of shooting attacks, rocket launchings and, together with Islamic Jihad, every suicide bombing inside Israel the past two years.
Drawing fierce criticism from all sides of the political spectrum here yesterday, Olmert told reporters the outcome of Israel’s fighting in Lebanon will create “new momentum” for Israel’s plan to evacuate Judea and Samaria.
The territories, which are within Palestinian rocket range of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, are also commonly called the West Bank.
As WND reported, Olmert made the same comments last week while visiting a group of Israelis evacuated from the Gaza Strip last August.
The prime minister, whose Kadima Party was formed specifically to carry out a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, told the Gaza evacuees he is “convinced that we made the right decision to carry out the disengagement plan [from Gaza], and it is better for Israel that you are not living in the Gaza Strip at this time.”
But Brigades leader Abu Maamun said Olmert’s statements are proof attacks against Israelis are working, explaining previous Israeli withdrawals directly have followed Arab violence.
“We won the war of Lebanon when (Prime Minister Ehud) Barak ran away in the night by withdrawing from Lebanon (in 2000). We won the first Intifada (launched against Israelis in 1987) when (Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak) Rabin called on (PLO Leader Yasser) Arafat to negotiate the 1993 Oslo Accords only in order to stop the Intifada.
“The Gaza withdrawal is the first result of our second Intifada (launched in 2000) and we see that Olmert still speaks of a second disengagement from the West Bank, and now Israel is under rocket attack. This is a great period and I believe a new era.”
The Jewish state is fighting wars on two fronts – Gaza and Lebanon – following Israeli withdrawals.
Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip last August, rockets have been fired almost daily into nearby Jewish communities, Hamas has been elected to power and both Israeli and Palestinian officials have stated al-Qaida has infiltrated the territory. Egypt recently announced the terrorists who carried out April’s deadly triple-bomb blasts in the Sinai resort town of Dahab trained for the operation in the Gaza Strip with local Palestinians. They said Gaza-based terrorists helped finance the attack.
Israel in June mounted its ongoing ground invasion of Gaza after Hamas carried out a raid against a military installation in which Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted.
Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. It had occupied a small section of Lebanon’s border with Israel following repeated attacks by Palestinian terrorists in the area. Since the withdrawal, Hezbollah has staged numerous attacks against Israel, including rocket bombardments of civilian population centers, raids against military outposts and ambushings and kidnappings of Israeli troops. Israel says Hezbollah built an arsenal of more than 13,000 short- and medium-range rockets capable of hitting central sections of the Jewish state.
Israel is in its 23rd day of a military campaign against Hezbollah guerillas in Lebanon following a Hezbollah raid last month in which eight Israeli soldiers were killed and two were abducted. The past three weeks, Hezbollah has fired more than 2,000 Katyusha rockets at northern Israel, placing one third of the Israeli population under the threat of rocket attack.