MARGARET WARNER: For reaction and analysis, we turn to Meyrav Wurmser, senior fellow and director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute, a policy research organization in Washington. She's an Israeli who has lived in this country for the past decade. Glenn Robinson, an associate professor in national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He's studied in both Israel and Jordan, and done independent research in the West Bank and Gaza. And Rashid Khalidi, professor of Middle East history, and director of the Center for International Studies at the University of Chicago. Welcome to you all.
Ms. Wurmser, beginning with you. Why did Israel target Salah Shehadeh, target him and in this manner with such a controversial operation that killed so many civilians?
MEYRAV WURMSER: Well, they targeted him, I think, because of his deep involvement with both the military wing of the Hamas and also because of his new role as one of the new spiritual leaders of the movement. There was some talk about Shehadeh becoming possibly the heir to Sheik Ahmed Yassin, who is the spiritual leader of the movement. He has also been incredibly important in the developments of rockets - the Kasam I and Kasam II rockets -- that have been recently come into the possession of the Hamas. So for all these reasons they had to target him. A Time of Calm?
MARGARET WARNER: Professor Khalidi, your reaction. I assume you don't see that as a justification.
RASHID KHALIDI: Well, I think there are a couple of points that should be made. One is the timing of this. At a moment when there is a period of calm, at a moment when there was an offer from both Hamas and earlier from Islamic Jihad to refrain from violence against Israeli civilians, we see a repetition of a pattern that should by now be familiar to anybody who pays a little bit of attention, which is that Israel seems to launch these strikes with disregard for civilian casualties at moments when some progress on the political level might be made. That would be my first reaction.
MARGARET WARNER: And Professor Robinson, your analysis both of the targeting and the timing.
GLENN ROBINSON: Well I think both Mey and Rashid are correct. Mey is correct in the sense that this is consistent with an Israeli pattern of assassinations of various Hamas and popular front and other leaders. And I think Rashid raises an important point that these assassinations do tend to come during periods of calm. And one has to ask why that's the case.
MARGARET WARNER: Why is that the case, Ms. Wurmser?
MEYRAV WURMSER: Well, I think that the definition of the current period as a period of calm is kind of an ambiguous and interesting use of the concept calm. Just last week we saw two major terrorist attacks take place in Israel. So the question is calm for whom -- or calm for what? Just because Hamas has decided to talk about a truce for now when we know that even in their, I mean, their ideology talks about the possibility of a truce with Israel, but it also talks about it in the context of the agreement signed by the prophet Mohammed, with some of the Jewish tribes at the time of his conquest. That was the idea of signing a temporary truce after which you are, you know, you resume activity of war and violence. So, I certainly don't think that we can consider this past week or two a period of calm.
MARGARET WARNER: Professor Khalidi.
RASHID KHALIDI: Well, it hasn't been a period of calm. There were 30 Palestinian civilians killed in the past few weeks. Those are never mentioned by the American media in addition to the two operations that Ms. Wurmser mentioned. But the fact that there was a possibility of a movement towards some kind of withdrawal of Israeli forces links to a reciprocal ceasing of attacks on Israeli civilians