Everybody leads with similar reports of scattered violence in the West Bank. Israeli tanks, personnel carriers, and armored bulldozers moved into Bethlehem, according to the New York Times. Israel also targeted the American-built headquarters of Palestinian security chief Jabril Rajoub outside Ramallah. The Palestinian response came in the form of a sniper attack and another suicide bombing, this one (the sixth in six days) in Jerusalem.
“We don’t believe we can keep them out,” said an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, in the Washington Post. “But we’re determined to put up the best fight we can.” The Los Angeles Times reports that Palestinians executed nine suspected collaborators before Israeli troops arrived in the West Bank towns of Tulkarm and Qalqilya. A 10th was killed in Bethlehem—a “very faithful informer” of the Israelis, according to the mayor (as quoted in the WP). Asked if the man had a trial, the mayor said, “He had a field trial.”
Jabril Rajoub was not at his headquarters when it was hit with Israeli tank and machine-gun fire, but he ordered the 400 men inside to resist, according to the Wall Street Journal. The LAT has an unconfirmed report that the 400 were desperately trying to escape the burning building.
In Jerusalem, a car bomb took the lives of both the driver and an Israeli policeman who had stopped the car, according to the WSJ. USA Today reports that the recent spate of Palestinian suicide bombings is an attempt by “disaffected loyalists” of Yasser Arafat to sabotage an intelligence accord with Israel that was to be signed last Wednesday. Under the agreement, brokered by Anthony Zinni, both sides would have revealed what their investigators uncovered about possible terrorist attacks.
Yesterday’s violence was not limited to the West Bank. In several Arab capitals, demonstrators clashed with police, the NYT reports. And Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon fired two rockets into northern Israel, according to the WSJ. “The rockets exploded harmlessly in fields.”
The WP reminds that Israel’s stated intention is to “uproot” the terrorist infrastructure under Arafat, rather than to reoccupy territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that was turned over to the Palestinians under the 1993 Oslo peace accords.
The NYT off-leads the criticism leveled at President Bush over his lack of diplomatic engagement in the Middle East. The critics “must not have been with me in Crawford when I was on the phone all morning long talking to world leaders,” Bush said Monday morning. But the Times points out that he has spoken to neither Arafat nor Sharon in recent days, “perhaps out of concern that his calls for restraint would be defied by both leaders.” Bush also hedged on the question of applying the “Bush doctrine,” which demands the ouster of any leader who sponsors or harbors terrorists, to Arafat. “Chairman Arafat has agreed to a peace process,” Bush said, deflecting the issue of whether Mr. Arafat is encouraging terrorist acts.
A U.S. intelligence official calls Abu Zubeida, said to be one of Osama Bin Laden’s top deputies, a person “well worth catching,” the LAT reports under the headline “He Knows Where People Are” (also a quote from the official). The paper calls the capture of Zubeida “a rare success in the hunt for terrorists that forms the backdrop to the war in Afghanistan.” It will only be a success, however, if Zubeida sings and that’s still a question.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on California’s “three strikes” law, according to the WP. The law requires a sentence of 25 years to life for a third felony conviction and that, opponents, say, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The injustice is most pronounced when the third felony—strike three—is relatively trivial, such as stealing $150 worth of videos from Kmart, which is what Leandro Andrade did. Usually considered a misdemeanor, prosecutors were able to treat the theft as a felony because of Andrade’s previous felony convictions. As a result, he will be eligible for parole in 2046, when he is 87.
The LAT fronts what it calls “the flip side of globalization”: U.S. jobs going overseas. The difference this time is that, in addition to manufacturing jobs, “the latest round of outsourcing also is hitting telephone operators, graphic designers, accountants and engineers.” China—a member of the World Trade Organization since December—is now among the countries benefiting from the flight. An AFL-CIO director says she hopes companies will feel “patriotic” and keep their jobs at home, while a CEO laments, “We’ve got to get the same amount of output, the same level of technology without spending as much capital,”
Finally, April Fool’s Day coincided with baseball’s opening day this year and 33,520 showed up at Fenway Park to cheer on their beloved Red Sox, speaking of cruel and unusual punishment. Ace Pedro Martinez, who has gained 15 pounds in an effort to avoid injury, gave up eight runs in three innings, but the Sox came back to take an 11-8 lead. And then they lost, 12-11. “If they want to panic, they can panic,” Martinez said afterward in the Boston Globe.