Friday, March 29, 2002

ARAFAT DEATH WATCH [00:00:00]: At this hour, the news is flying fast and furious. Bulldozers tearing down the fence surrounding Arafat's compound ... Now tanks are inside the compound ... his office is being pounded by heavy artillery ... The building is on fire ... At least two of Arafat's bodyguards are reported to have been wounded ... IDF troops are storming the complex ... Prime Minister Sharon is addressing the nation now, in Hebrew ... Paraphrased translation: This is the beginning of an extended operation to "isolate" Arafat ...

Considering that he's been under virtual house arrest for the past three months, what does "isolate" mean? Will they now confiscate his cellphone? Cut up his credit cards? Sharon uses the word "isolate" repeatedly, without elaboration. Are we talking about Arafat's head being isloated from his shoulders? All he'll say is that "Isolate means isolate!"

Steve Den Beste lays even odds that Arafat will be dead within 48 hours, or almost certainly within a week. My guess is that the world will have been rid of the two-faced Nobel Peace Prize-winner by the time I wake up tomorrow morning.

The level of outrage following the Passover Massacre has risen to such a level that Sharon has no political alternative. There is no longer such a thing as "acceptable losses" in the service of a peace process that has been so utterly exposed as a pointless fiction. To allow Arafat to die in combat invites world condemnation and the spectre of more awful terrorist reprisals -- but the Israeli public will tolerate casualties to bring about an end to the Palestinian Authority, just as surely as America was prepared to accept military losses to destroy Al Qaida.

(Not surprisingly, the Jerusalem Post website is running glacier-slow this evening. Everyone wants to know what's going down. They're probably experiencing server meltdown.)

We shall see what news tomorrow brings ...


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