Leading article: Return to the discredited old methods

Share

The shock waves generated by the stunning victory of Hamas in January's Palestinian elections are still rippling outwards. The unrest that broke out in the West Bank and Gaza yesterday is merely the latest consequence of that profound shift in the balance of power. What lay behind the Israeli army's raid on Jericho, and the angry response by Palestinians, was the announcement by the incoming Hamas leadership that the jailed militant Ahmed Saadat would be released.

The Israeli government claims that Saadat, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is responsible for the assassination of the Israeli tourism minister, Rehavam Zeevi, five years ago. Since 2002 Saadat had been in the custody of the Palestinian Authority, guarded in a Jericho prison by British and American international monitors. When these monitors were withdrawn yesterday, the Israeli army took its chance to roll into the Palestinian town and extract Saadat by force.

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has pinned responsibility for the raid on Britain and the US for withdrawing their monitors. The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw maintains that, since the Palestinian Authority ignored concerns over the security of these monitors, they had no choice but to leave. Whoever is right, the upshot is that Britons working in the Palestinian territories are now at greater risk than they have been for some time. The burning of the British Council office in Gaza was a depressing sign of how low Britain's reputation has sunk in the Palestinian territories.

It is also clear from yesterday's events that the Israeli government has made a strategic blunder. The heavy-handedness of the operation is likely to dispel some of the international sympathy built up by the Israeli government as a result of the Gaza disengagement. The fact that Israeli forces swept into Jericho the minute the international representatives had gone showed an arrogant contempt for the security arrangements of the Palestinian Authority. It was also a slap in the face for the authority of President Abbas.

There are worrying signs that the acting Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has failed to recognise the vastly changed political circumstances of the region. If this operation was an attempt by Mr Olmert to demonstrate strength in the run-up to the Israeli elections later this month it misfired. The failure to capture Saadat cleanly was an embarrassment. More disturbingly, the raid was reminiscent of the days when Israel engaged in state assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders. But now Hamas has a democratic mandate. Unless the Israeli government sheds its discredited old methods, it is liable to find itself even more internationally isolated.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: pours or pores, pulverised, ‘in preference for’ and lists

Guy Keleny
Ed Miliband created a crisis of confidence about himself within Labour when he forgot to mention the deficit in his party conference speech  

The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election

Andrew Grice
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect