Historian's Take on the News: Archives 11-1-02 to 1-29-03
DANIEL PIPES: It certainly is. The Israelis have clearly made a mistake, and need to be more careful. It's a tragedy. We must all urge the Israelis to approach these problems more carefully.
That said, it is also important to realize that the Palestinians have the moral opprobrium here in having the leaders of their military in civilian areas. There is no distinction, and they are making it I think on purpose a target for the Israelis so that when the Israelis do strike, it's likely that they will have civilian casualties.
So, the Israelis have got to be more careful, but the Palestinians are not playing fair. You don't put your military men in houses with children.
BROWN: Well, the guy-I want to understand this because this strikes me a bit of a stretch. You got a guy apparently at home with his wife and children. Now, other than walking around the streets with a target on his back, what is it he's supposed to be doing?
PIPES: Military installations in the Palestinian areas are consistently found in civilian areas. So, what one finds all the time is the Israelis are trying very hard to avoid taking-inflicting casualties and sometimes even taking themselves.
You remember, a few months ago, some 13 Israelis were killed because they fell into a booby trap. So, it happens both ways. I mean, I'm in no way apologizing for what the Israelis have done today. I'm just saying there's a context, and it's one which is tragic.
But it's one in which this man, Salah Shehadeh, has a very important role. He is one of the founders of the military wing of Hamas. He was in Israeli jail for 14 years, from 1984 to 1998. He's a close associate of the leader of Hamas, Ahmed Yassin. He's been, as was indicated earlier, on the top of the Israelis' most wanted list for some months now. The Israelis did blow up his house actually in December of last year. He is their target and he is, as I said before, and I think it's fair to say, he's making sure that he's surrounded by his wife, his children and other civilians.
BROWN: Would you agree that the end results of this, whether it was a good move, bad move, stupid, however, the end result of this is simply going to be more violence on both sides, that that is the natural outcome of this sort of event?
PIPES: No. I think I disagree, Aaron. Because I don't think it's a state
of peace that's interrupted by the occasional, you know, spasmodic event of
violence. I think there's a war taking place and there are occasional lulls
in that war. And the key question is not when is the next act of violence going
take place. The key question is who is winning this war, who is losing this
war, what are the implications of that. It's a war.