The car bomb that miraculously failed to explode in the city of Haifa was in all likelihood delivered by a terror group in the West Bank. Nobody was hurt, but this was a timely reminder that Palestinian terrorism is not yet a feature of the past. “As far as Israel is concerned, this was a terrorist attack in every sense,” Ehud Olmert had said. The U.S. plans the next round of remove-more-road-blocks pressure, but within the last week or so two policemen were killed in the West Bank, and an attempt was made at killing civilians in a shopping mall.
One symbolic, but still troubling component of Saturday’s bomb scare was the name of the group claiming responsibility for planting the bomb:
A terror group called the Galilee Freedom Battalions has claimed responsibility for a failed terror attack near Haifa’s Lev Hamifratz mall. An announcement by the organization said “the explosive device did not explode due to a technical flaw or difficulty”. “This action is part of a range of actions we promised you in response to the razing of houses in east Jerusalem and the occupation’s slaughter in Gaza and the West Bank,” it said.
Israel’s security forces doubted the claim, “saying they were unfamiliar with a group of that name currently operating in Israel.” Nevertheless, the fact that those trying to kill Israelis thought about “freeing” Galilee, a part of Israel’s territory presumably not under dispute, is telling. This is not the first time Arab radicals have demonstrated their intentions regarding this area (populated by many Arab-Israelis), and it’s probably not the last time. Those believing that the Arab world is ready to accept Israel’s sovereignty, and that the only area of debate is the West Bank should think again. When Israel forces left southern Lebanon back in 2000, Hezbollah was quick to announce that the territory evacuated wasn’t nearly enough:
The 1924 negotiations between France and Britain included the reassignment of the Galilee “panhandle” from Lebanon to Mandatory Palestine. The panhandle incorporated Jewish settlements, Christian and Sunni villages, as well as six Shi’i villages: Ibl Qamah, Hounine, Malkieh, Nabi Yusha, Kades, and Saliha. Hizballah claims include these six villages, along with a seventh Shi’i village, Teir Bikha, located in the Acre district far east of the Galilee panhandle.
In 2006, when Israeli diplomats started talking about the possibility of Israel evacuating Shaba’a Farms, Michel Rubin rightly commented on the inadvisability of whetting Hezbollah’s appetite. And as we’ve seen this weekend, it’s an appetite backed by deadly action.