Nazareth attack underscores threat

Analysis: Sorties into Christian quarter in Beirut overshadowed by kids' death.

nazareth attack 298 88 (photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli)
nazareth attack 298 88
(photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli)
In April 2002, as the IDF besieged terrorists who had holed up in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, Italy's La Stampa newspaper ran a front page cartoon depicting a baby Jesus crouching in his manger, threatened by an Israeli tank, with the caption, "Oh, no! They don't want to kill me again?!" It will be interesting to see what the Turin-based newspaper puts on its front page on Thursday, following the firing of a fatal Katyusha rocket Wednesday on Nazareth that killed two children.
Wednesday morning, before the attack in Nazareth, one foreign ministry official expressed concern about reports that the IDF had attacked targets in Christian Beirut, saying that while the world could understand attacking Hizbullah's Beirut stronghold, going after targets in the Christian part of the capital would be difficult to fathom. But by the afternoon, this was largely forgotten - as reports of those IAF sorties were replaced by reports of the attack on Nazareth, with overseas networks stressing that this was Jesus' hometown. One western diplomat said that this incident, perhaps more than anything else that has happened over the last week, could bring home to people abroad what Israel is facing. According to the official, when a farmer in Indiana hears that rockets killed an Israeli in Safed, or that Katyushas have hit Tiberias, both of which are among Judaism's four holy cities, it doesn't click. The religious context is missing, and there is little appreciation of the historical sites in those cities. But when he hears that rockets are crashing down on Nazareth, where Jesus grew up, it casts the situation in a different light, making it more real. Kiryat Shmona, Nahariya, Shlomi, even Haifa, mean little to most people abroad. Nazareth, however, rings a bell. It was no surprise, therefore, that soon after the tragedy in Nazareth, the Foreign Ministry - in the daily talking points sent to its delegations abroad - stressed that this was the third attack targeting Arab towns in the Galilee, and that by targeting Nazareth and placing religious sites in danger, Hizbullah was showing "they have no respect for conventional civilized behavior" and are operating "without a shred of humanity."