Thursday, September 26, 2002

99% dead?
Could Israel's most wanted terrorist, Muhammed Def, have been killed by missiles dispatched from Israeli helicopters today?

Def has been wanted for ten years and more and was responsible for many murderous terrorist attacks, including the particularly horrific wave of terror following the killing of Hamas master terrorist known as "the engineer", Yihya Ayash, in 1996. This wave of terror was one of the main reasons for Peres losing the 1996 election to Netanyahu.

Def became a Palestinian symbol, because of his remarkable ability to stay alive. Following the recent killing of Hamas head, Salah Shehada, he was made his heir. This forced him out of hiding.

I just saw Professor Shaul Mishal, who I was very taken with when he taught me in university during the first Intifada, discussing the killing or attempted killing, on Israeli TV, channel 1. Still a PhD in those days, Dr. Mishal was known as the most boring lecturer ever and notoriously nasty to 99% of his students. But once those 99% had fled in terror, he was thrilling. A year-long course I took with him, about Arab society and politics in the West bank, was the high point of my studies in the Political Science faculty of Tel Aviv University.

Mishal sees the killing of Hamas heads as a mistake, coming without a coherent plan and warns of a wave of terrorism like that followed the killing of Ayash in 1996, which will be necessary so the Hamas can rebuild its reputation. I didn't really understand what alternative action he suggests, but this was probably because I had to go make the girls an omelette and missed much of what he had to say. I could probably remedy this by reading his book about the Hamas, which is lying unread, on Bish's bedside table. I've nearly finished Bernard Lewis. Maybe this should be next.

If Mishal's writing abilities are any better than his remarkable lack of talent for public speaking, I may get back to you on this in a few weeks (I told you I was a slow reader).