Since September 2000, Israel has been under constant attack from Palestinian suicide bombers. The bombers attack mainly civilian targets, such as cafés, restaurants, and buses. Many of the bombers believe that they are doing holy work and will be rewarded in the afterlife for their efforts. In response, Israel has been engaging in "targeted killings," targeting, in particular, the Palestinian leaders suspected of sending the suicide bombers on their missions. A significant percentage of these leaders are from Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority. Many Palestinians say that suicide bombings against Israeli civilians are the only way to convince Israel to agree to Palestinian demands for a Palestinian state. The Israelis point out, however, that in the year 2000 - before the current round of suicide bombings began - during talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Yasser Arafat, and U.S. President Bill Clinton, Israel offered to meet over 95% of Yasser Arafat's demands as part of the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, but Arafat turned Israel's offer down (going against the advice of even his own advisors). Thus, say the Israelis, the suicide bombings are not only not only an unnecessary (let alone evil) tactic, but are actually likely to make Israel far less willing to agree to Palestinian demands.
In addition to "targeted killings," Israel has been demolishing the homes of suicide bombers and their families, in the hope that people will be deterred from becoming suicide bombers if they believe that their families will suffer as a result. Many Palestinians say that these demolitions not only serve to give the Palestinians further grievances against the Israelis but are also wrong because the families of suicide bombers should not be punished for the crimes of the bombers. Israel, however, points out that since it has begun the demolitions, Palestinian support for suicide bombing has gone down significantly.
In 2002, Israel began to build a security fence as a way to keep terrorists from being able to enter Israel. In July 2004, the International Court of Justice at the Hague gave an opinion that the security fence violates international law in that it does not sufficiently take into account the suffering of the Palestinians. However, the opinion is merely advisory. By contrast, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled the fence to be legal as a means for Israel to protect itself from terrorists, although the Court did rule that some portions of the fence needed to be moved, in order to minimize the division of Palestinian towns. Since the construction of the fence, the number of suicide bombings in Israel has gone down, although suicide bombers are still able to enter Israel through areas that are not yet covered by the fence.
On August 15, 2005, at precisely midnight, Israeli soldiers evicted the last Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, resettling them elsewhere in Israel. Israel then unilaterally pulled out of Gaza, relinquishing complete control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. Interestingly, the Gaza pullout was brought about by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who, for most of his life, had been an ardent supporter of Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, as well as in Judea and Sumeria (which are sometimes referred to collectively as the West Bank).
In 2006, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fell into a coma. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert then became acting prime minister. This rather temporary situation ended on March 28, 2006, when the Kadima Party, the party that had been created, in large part, by Prime Minister Sharon in November 2005, won the national elections. With Kadima as the new majority party, Ehud Olmert officially became prime minister of Israel.
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