An action-packed, nondidactic examination of how Israel’s special operation units rose to the challenge of the Palestinian intifada.
In a work of formidable research, Katz (Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the Al-Qaeda Terrorists, 2002, etc.) meticulously examines the makeup of the Israeli undercover anti-terrorist organizations, such as the Shin Bet and the Ya’mas (Border Guard), which infiltrated deep inside enemy lines (the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem) to root out Hamas-directed Palestinian terrorists bent on making Israel “bleed.” Although not a “war,” the protracted intifada erupting between 2000 and 2008 was as bloody as any of the other numerous wars in the region, fought not on battlefields but in shopping malls and other civilian sites where suicide bombers and lone shooters wreaked havoc. Katz moves chronologically from 2000 as several specialized units were developed to meet the growing Palestinian terrorist cells, such as the tightknit Ya’mas, a diverse mix of Israeli’s minority communities, who had Arabic language and customs and could infiltrate the West Bank and elsewhere. As diplomacy broke down—most recently, the Camp David meetings between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders organized by President Bill Clinton in July 2000—tensions increased when the botched attempt to assassinate leader Mahmoud Abu Hanoud aroused Palestinian ire. Conflict also followed Ariel Sharon’s well-publicized visit to the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount. Subsequently, the specialized forces met the intensified insurrection with renewed force and organization, launching Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in March 2002. Katz smoothly moves from one hot spot to another—e.g., Itamar, Jenin, Hebron, Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip—following high-profile terrorists like Hamas operative Ziad Musa and delineating specifically the operations that shut down the terrorist cells and allowed the country “to maintain the semblance of day-to-day normalcy inside a country mercilessly under siege.”
A detailed book that is refreshingly full of sound research rather than polemic.