Tel Aviv Bombing: Hamas has learnt the lessons of Lebanon: Mass deportation of Palestinians has come back to haunt Israel

LEBANON has come to Israel - all thanks to the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin.

That was the chillingly simple message delivered by Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, in the aftermath of yesterday's Tel Aviv bombing. In a telephone call to Israel Radio claiming responsibility for the attack, the caller said the bombing was carried out in the name of the 400 Hamas supporters, deported to south Lebanon on the specific order of the Israeli Prime Minister 22 months ago.

Mr Rabin had hoped that the mass deportation would teach Hamas a lesson, and halt attacks on Israeli targets. Instead, under international pressure, Mr Rabin was forced to allow the deportees, none of whom were charged with crimes, to return.

Now the expulsion has come back to haunt Israel. 'Thank you to Mr Rabin for sending us to Lebanon where we learnt about sabotage,' the anonymous caller said.

Among those exiled to south Lebanon was Hamas's intellectual leadership.

During their exodus in Lebanon, the activists rubbed shoulders with the Lebanese Islamist Hizbollah, which has been waging a guerrilla war with Israel across its northern border.

Through their contacts with Hizbollah, Hamas appears not only to have learnt new tricks, but almost certainly firmed up its links with Iran. This is apparent in the increasing degree of co- ordination and sophistication shown by Hamas over the past year, including yesterday's attack.

Ehud Barak, Israel's chief of staff, said yesterday that the Tel Aviv attack was almost certainly the work of a suicide bomber, who is thought to have stepped on to the bus carrying a bag containing 10-15 kilos of explosives.

Suicide bombings are a trademark of Hizbollah, and had rarely been seen in Israel or the occupied territories.

In the aftermath of the Hebron massacre in February, further evidence emerged of Hamas's increased sophistication. Car-bombs exploded at Afula and Hadera, inside Israel proper, killing 13 Israelis. Car-bombs are a trade- mark of Hizbollah, and had rarely been used successfully by Hamas.

Last week Israel was again caught of guard by new Hamas tactics. Gunmen opened fire in a fashionable Jerusalem cafe district. Then, the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, brought more echoes of Hizbollah.

In London, Michael Barron, Israel analyst at Control Risks Information Services, predicted that the attacks would continue. 'The suicide bombing highlights that even the highest standards of Israeli security are not a deterrent against determined and well-planned attacks,' he said.

The usual Israeli military responses were put in place yesterday. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank were closed off from Israel, preventing thousands of Palestinian workers from reaching their jobs, and suspects in the Israeli occupied areas rounded up.

At the same time, pressure was once again placed upon the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, to crack down on militants within his own camp. However, after the most serious attack against an Israeli target in recent years, none of these responses is likely to satisfy Israeli outrage, let alone curb Hamas.

But sealing off the occupied territories is likely to deepen economic hardship among Palestinians and stir up new anger. Furthermore, such closures do not prevent Arabs from entering the heart of Israel, where nearly 1 million Israeli Arabs live as Israeli citizens.

In the absence of Mr Rabin, who cut short a visit to London yesterday, it fell to Ezer Weizman, the Israeli President, to shore up support for the peace process, telling Israeli people that the only way to counter the 'terror' was to continue the dialogue. On his return to Israel last night, Mr Rabin was clearly determined to initiate new and drastic action. He went straight to the Defence Ministry, silent and stoney faced.

It appeared highly likely that the on-going talks to extend self-rule to the rest of the West Bank would be called off once again. But such action is probably only mean to placate the Israeli right, and cannot last, given the commitment to continue the peace process.

One drastic option - possibley under consideration - is for Israeli soldiers to re- enter the PLO controlled areas of Gaza in the search for Hamas leaders. This might win some temporary support among the Israeli public, but would destabilise Mr Arafat, and possibly end the Palestinian leaders brief reign in Gaza, once and for all.

The PLO would argue that such action would be to contravene the Gaza-Jericho accords. Furthermore, as the drama of the kidnapped Israeli soldier showed, Hamas is not simply operating in the PLO-controlled areas.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones