An open letter to Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin
Dear Mr. Diskin,
I know this letter will make it to you. I know you're a busy man, so I'll only take your attention away from the pressures of targeted killings for a few minutes.
Which brings me to my main point: Our return to the days of targeted killings. After a break in which we've started to live and breathe again – you've decided to return us to those terrible years, 2002-03. It's as if we've learned nothing.
But in the meanwhile several books, by researchers and people in the field no less qualified than your people, and less restrained by strict organizational discipline, have testified to the mistakes stained with our blood.
Hungry for the kill
I'm sure you've read "Boomerang" by Ofer Shelah and Raviv Drucker, about the failure of our leadership, and Shlomi Eldar's "Gaza as Death", which talks about their desperate lives that lead to a neighbor's suicide, and "The Seventh War," by Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, which beats its chest (amongst other things) about the targeted killings, specifically the killing of Raad Karmi that brought upon us a huge wave of terror attacks.
These books give witness to the routine of assassinations, the digestive juices, and the hunter's thirst that have developed inside Mofaz's security establishment, at a time when we must use our brains a little bit. We paid a terrible price for this, but the dead remain silent.
Alongside these three books, I would present you with two witnesses. One can no longer appear on any stage. The other is alive, and is an expert witness from your organization.
The first is Anna Orgal. In mid-2003 she said to her friends, "some small person like us will die tomorrow." They had just heard on the radio that Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantisi had been killed in Gaza.
"We have to be more careful than ever after assassinations," said Anna. "It's the little people like us, people without cars, who pay the price for these killings… someone small, who takes the bus, will die.”
Then she got on the bus to go home, and was killed by a terrorist from Hebron who blew himself, and the bus, up.
Shin Bet veteran speaks out
A short while after I wrote about her death I met my expert witness.
"Do you know how many times we've celebrated the death of the last terrorist?" said Nahman Tal, a former senior Shin Bet operative.
He's one of your people, Yuval, a true senior figure, someone who has seen everything and heard everything. Listen to what he has to say:
"We always raised our glasses for a toast, but all of a sudden there was another one. Sometimes the break lasted a year, sometimes a few years. But eventually it all returns."
For more than 40 years Tal pursued the Palestinians. After joining the service in January 1955 he worked the villages, after the Six Day War he moved to Gaza and Lebanon. There's nothing he hasn't seen, nothing was hidden from him. "Stupidity" is how he describes what he saw.
He rose through the ranks and survived all the wars and watched everything that transpired in Beirut and in the Balata refugee camp.
"You will never subdue a group in the midst of a nationalist rebellion," he told me. "You know how many victory parties I've attended to celebrate our victory over terrorism?"
It's a phrase that should be engraved on the wall of the room in which you'll have your next party to celebrate the next assassination. You might want to also add Anna's more modest statement: "Someone small will be killed tomorrow."
Every assassination gives rise to four new heads. Please, stop this march of blood and stupidity. Because the buck stops with you.