During those same six months (es refereix als últims sis mesos), the Israeli army destroyed most of what remained of Hamas's organization in the West Bank and a substantial part of its infrastructure in Gaza. Just last week, Israeli gunships rocketed a Hamas training camp in Gaza, killing 15 operatives. Hamas leaders, who once routinely led rallies and gave interviews to the media, don't dare show their faces in public anymore. Even their names are kept secret (fins ara no han passat a la clandestinitat! No us sorprèn, això. Qualsevol que hagi sigut mílitant antifranquista sap perfectament que ningú de l'oposició no podia fer ni conferències de premsa ni molt menys aparèixer públicament amb el seu nom perquè no durava ni 24 hores en llibertat. Fer això era com entregar-se a la policia. Si fins ara les organitzacions terroristes palestines, no la simple oposició democràtica, no ho havien fet és, senzillament, perquè no feia falta. Argument que desmunta per si sol tots els tòpics sobre el caràcter nazi o antidemocràtic de la lluita d'Israel contra el terrorisme palestí). Hardly a night passes without the arrest of a wanted terrorist. Hamas's ranks have become so depleted that the organization is now recruiting teenagers: At the Gaza border, Israeli forces recently broke up a Hamas cell made up of 16-year-olds.
Meanwhile, life inside Israel has returned to near normalcy. The economy, which was shrinking in 2001, is now growing at around 4 percent per year. Even the tourists are back: Jerusalem's premier King David Hotel, which a few years ago was almost empty, recently reached full occupancy. All summer, Israel seemed to be celebrating itself, with music and film festivals and a nightly crafts fair in Jerusalem that brought crowds back to its once-deserted downtown. Everyone knows a terrorist attack can happen at any time. Still, Israeli society no longer lives in anticipation of an attack. The Beersheba bombing, which once would have seemed to Israelis part of an endless and unwinnable war, is now perceived as an aberration. Terror that no longer paralyzes is no longer terror.
Israel's triumph over the Palestinian attempt to unravel its society is the result of a systematic assault on terrorism that emerged only fitfully over the past four years. The fence, initially opposed by the army and the government, has thwarted terrorist infiltration in those areas where it has been completed. Border towns like Hadera and Afula, which had experienced some of the worst attacks, have been terror-free since the fence was completed in their areas. Targeted assassinations and constant military forays into Palestinian neighborhoods have decimated the terrorists' leadership, and roadblocks have intercepted hundreds of bombs, some concealed in ambulances, children's backpacks, and, most recently, a baby carriage.
At every phase of Israel's counteroffensive, skeptics have worried that attempts to suppress terrorism would only encourage more of it. They warned that Israel couldn't close Orient House, the Palestinian Liberation Organization's de facto capital in East Jerusalem, without provoking an international backlash and strengthening Yasir Arafat's hold there. They warned that, by isolating and humiliating Arafat, Israel would only bolster his stature at home and abroad. They warned that, by reoccupying Palestinian cities and targeting terrorist leaders, Israel would only deepen Palestinian rage and despair.
In fact, Israel shut down Orient House in August 2001 with relative impunity, and today, few even recall where it was. Not only has Arafat been confined to the ruins of his Ramallah headquarters for the last two years, but he has become a near-pariah figure even among many European foreign ministers and the target of a revolt in the territories against his corrupt rule. In late August, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer visited Jerusalem, but not Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. And, for all their rage at Israeli assassinations and despair over the reoccupation, growing numbers of Palestinians are now questioning the effectiveness of their terrorist war. Last year, in Gaza's Beit Hanoun, residents protested against terrorists using the village as a base for launching rockets into Israel; just recently, a Palestinian teenager was shot dead there after he tried to bar terrorists from his home.
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