Commentary time and place of new terror acts in Israel unpredictable

Life in Israel is becoming a kind of "the Russian roulette." An Israeli leaving on business in the morning can never know what will come out of his trip on a bus, lunch in a cafe, shopping at a marketplace or a walk around the town. The stake is the most precious thing a man has - his life. Everyone is perfectly aware of the fact that another bomb can go off anytime anywhere. This awareness makes the Israelis nervous forcing many of them to visit public places as rarely as possible and avoid central streets when going on business.

This past Sunday of bloodshed, August 4th, when several terrorist acts left eleven people killed and tens wounded proves that the situation is critical. By Monday morning, town hospitals scattered across the country were treating tens of those wounded in the passenger bus explosion and the gunmen attack in Jerusalem's Old City.

This Monday also started from an attack on Israelis, which took place in the nearby Jewish settlement of Shilo north of Ramallah /the West Bank of River Jordan/. A gunman attack on a car left a married couple from the neighboring settlement of Elim killed. A two-year-old boy who was also in the car sustained wounds. Another eight-month-old child was not injured in the attack. The wounded child was rushed to a Jerusalem hospital. Doctors describe his condition as grave.

Many observers say that following the notorious Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip in the late hours of July 22nd it became quite clear that the violence against the Israelis would be escalating. This attack left 16 Palestinians killed, including Salah Shahada, a leader of the HAMAS radical Muslim organisation. HAMAS fighters were quick to promise that they will revenge and are now "keeping their word." This means the Mideastern violence is "a vicious circle" - a terror act in Israel is usually followed by a "retaliation operation" in Palestine, then comes another terror act and subsequently a new military operation. World leaders, international organisations, various foreign ministers, politicians and peacemakers are still failing to break it. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians seem to be standing tough in a desperate bid to prove who the true master of the land is and neither will step aside.

Meanwhile, more and more often it is foreigners who fall victims of terror acts in Israel. Two Philippians were killed in the Sunday bus explosion. Several days before, a terror act in the Jewish University in Jerusalem claimed the life of five US citizens who came there for a summer apprenticeship, while three South Korean students sustained heavy wounds. Prior to this tragedy, two bombs, which went off near the old bus station, killed several workers from Romania and China. This means "the Russian roulette" is becoming increasingly dangerous for foreigners in Israel, which is quite natural for a bomb does not care for the nationality and citizenship of its victims.

Obviously enough, when plotting the terror act, Muslim radicals were perfectly aware of the fact that the explosions near the Tel Aviv bus station and in Jerusalem Jewish University posed a threat to the life of foreigners. Possibly, that was part of their plan - to scare them so that they stopped coming to the country.

The Israeli authorities are obviously confused. They simply don't know what they should do to stop violence and that is why, as observers think, tear about two mutually exclusive solutions - to ease "the strict isolation regime" of Palestinian towns or, on the contrary, to toughen it, which results in confusing promises either not to deliver retaliation blows or to react to terror activities in the strictest way. For instance, in the morning one can hear an information disclosing the Israeli intention to lift the curfew or even blockade in that or another Palestinian town, while in the evening they impose new limitations on the Palestinians, like, for instance, the Sunday evening decision by the Israeli military command to cut off the traffic of Palestinian vehicles on roads linking towns on the West Bank of River Jordan. At the same time, a spokesman for the Israeli Armed Forces said that this measure should not be considered "a collective punishment" of the whole West Bank's population, but as a necessary step towards preventing new terror acts.

However, the Israelis do react to terror acts. In particular, this refers to the continuing military operation on the West Bank. Israeli troops are currently most active in Nablus, which, as the Israelis emphasise, is virtually "a terrorist nest." They say that the bomb, which went off in Jerusalem Jewish University last week, had been made there. This is why the Israelis are continuing arrests and searches in Nablus. They are detaining tens of Palestinians suspected of being involved in terror activities or linked to terrorist organisations.

Reportedly, they are also confiscating weapons and ammunition that were allegedly stored in Palestinian private houses in the Nablus central district of Qasba. They are searching for and destroying workshops producing explosive agents, mortar shells, Kassam-2 missiles and so on. Leaders of HAMAS and other radical organisations, whom the Israelis find extremely dangerous, are being eliminated on the scene. For the last time, this happened in the late hours of Sunday in the Arab village of Burqa outside Nablus.

Arrests are also in full swing in other Palestinian towns and villages outside Ramallah, Tulkarm, Qalqilya and Jenin.

At the same time, "the strict isolation regime" has been reportedly eased in Hebron and Bethlehem. In the near future, the Israelis are planning to withdraw their troops from the aforesaid districts. But this carrot and stick policy is obviously not very effective. The terror is continuing and the situation seems to be aggravating.

The Israeli radio often quotes the secret service as reporting that this or another area where new terror acts will possibly be carried out. New checkpoints are being constructed on the outskirts of towns and cities, while the street patrols are being reinforced. Anyone can feel tension in the air. No one can predict when and where a new bloody terror act will take place.