A remote-controlled bomb exploded under a U.S. diplomatic convoy Wednesday, ripping apart an armored van and killing three Americans in an unprecedented attack on an official U.S. target. The U.S. Embassy advised U.S. citizens to leave the Gaza Strip after the attack.Attacking the United States and its citizens ought to win one an instant trip into martyrdom. Yet will that be the case with this attack? In 1982, 241 American marines were killed by a suicide bomber while sleeping in their barracks in Beirut. The organizers of that plot have never suffered retribution for their deeds.
The bombing, which also wounded an American, will likely intensify U.S. pressure on the Palestinian Authority to take action against militant groups.
There was no claim of responsibility. But if Palestinian militants were to blame, it could signal a dramatic change in strategy. While targeting Israeli soldiers and civilians for years, groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad repeatedly insist they do not target U.S. officials — apparently to avoid a harsh retribution from the Americans and the anger of Palestinian officials trying to work with Washington.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat condemned the attack as an "awful crime" and said he ordered an investigation.
The Islamic militants are right to think the U.S. is a paper tiger—when have our deeds followed our rhetoric? Yet now we have the opportunity to change that. The American response to this vicious attack on our diplomats should be unequivocal—those who were behind it should be hunted down and killed.