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 When these monitors were withdrawn yesterday, the Israeli army took its chance to roll into the Palestinian town and extract Saadat by force.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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching