By David Warren
Southern Lebanon, then Gaza, were two strips of occupied territory from which the Israelis withdrew entirely and unilaterally, removing all Jewish settlements from the latter. As I, and various other "rightwing nuts" predicted, the vacated territories were immediately used as platforms to attack Israel proper. They fell quickly into the hands of the terrorist organizations, Hezbollah, and Hamas, respectively. With direct Israeli supervision withdrawn, the smuggling of weapons increased radically. Effectively fenced in, so they could not send suicide bombers across the Israeli border, the new masters turned instead to rocket attacks and tunnelling.
When the Israelis withdrew, I wrote that they would have no choice but to return to both territories, and clean them out. We are now at that stage.
Now here is an idea for a dark night. It might actually be in Israel's interest to risk the big confrontation with Iran now, by attacking Syria before Iran can do much about it, without triggering a reluctant American response. Israel's nerviest best hope of long-run survival might thus lie down the road to Damascus.
It is the sort of idea that would have occurred to Ariel Sharon. He is "retired hurt", however, and so the captaincy is passed to someone called Ehud Olmert, who is more likely, under rising pressure, to think small.