For those of you who may not have been keeping track, Hamas has now failed to respect or violated at least five ceasefires in the current fight with Israel. Time and again, Israel has accepted a ceasefire only for Hamas to disregard it. This last time, Hamas itself actually proposed a ceasefire on Sunday according to the BBC but Gaza terrorists broke it yet again.
Here is the problem: Hamas does not believe in a ceasefire like Westerners do. A ceasefire is not for peace—it is to reload. And so if the plan is to break the ceasefire at the best opportunity anyway, violating it early is of no concern. Let’s look closer.
Hudna and History
First, we have to define what a “ceasefire” means for Hamas. In Arabic, a word often translated as “ceasefire” or “truce” is “Hudna”. However, Honest Reporting’s website points out that a Hudna is not a peace treaty. It’s a negotiated halt to fighting intended to be used for rearming or a pause until a better fighting opportunity arises.
The most famous of these is the 10-year truce Mohammed struck centuries ago. Honest Reporting points out that the Islamic founder responded to a low-level violation of the truce by conquering Mecca just two years into the decade-long deal.
In other words, the Hudna is not permanent peace. It is a tactical move for a future war.
The record for Hamas demonstrates this. Israel and Hamas have reached multiple ceasefires since 2007 when the terror group took over the Gaza Strip. Hamas has violated those ceasefires over and over again.
Generally speaking, no ceasefire with Gaza terrorists is ever a true ceasing of fire. A sporadic rocket here or there is typical. The only difference is the intensity of the fighting.
Balancing that out is not easy for Israel, which sometimes has chosen to escalate the conflict in response to Hamas’ belligerence, as was the case with the last war in 2012, in which Israel assassinated the head of Hamas’ militant wing.
Israel is never the aggressor here, simply because the other side keeps shooting and plotting. So even if Israel intensifies the conflict, as in the case of the 2012 war, it is a preemptive strike.
That 2012 assassination followed a previous escalation just months earlier, in which terrorists launched a vicious multi-pronged terror attack in the south of Israel that killed multiple Israeli civilians. Israel had every reason to defend itself against future attacks after that.
During “ceasefires” with Israel, Hamas has done the following:
- Launched a sizable border attack on Israel that ultimately failed (and which precipitated the 2008-09 war);
- Fired an anti-tank rocket at an Israeli school bus, killing an Israeli boy;
- And in the move that started the latest conflict, kidnapping and murdering three Israeli teenagers.
The Current ‘Ceasefires’
Unlike in the past, Hamas has shown its true colors in this round of fighting. Israel agreed to a ceasefire mediated by Egypt well over a week ago. Despite Arab League backing, Hamas rejected it.
Then, Israel accepted temporary ceasefires for humanitarian reasons by the United Nations and the Red Cross, including the latest one this past Saturday. Hamas violated each of those.
Last but not least, Hamas actually proposed a new 24-hour ceasefire, hours after shattering the last one, for 2 PM local time on Sunday, according to the BBC. The Jerusalem Post listed no less than five Gaza rocket attacks in the ensuing hour-and-a-half.
Israel’s announcement that they would end the Saturday ceasefire following Hamas violations summed up the situation well:
“Yet again Hamas is cynically exploiting the residents of Gaza in order to use them as human shields. Hamas first rejected the Egyptian ceasefire initiative and afterwards violated last week’s UN humanitarian truce. It later violated the Red Cross humanitarian truce and has rebuffed the UN request for a humanitarian truce in order to allow the residents of Gaza to prepare for [the Islamic holiday of] Eid al-Fitr,” said the statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
Israel is already learning the lesson about Hamas ceasefires: Saturday’s humanitarian truce did not prohibit Israel from searching for terror tunnels and taking them down, according to the IDF Blog.
Still, Israel sought to provide some level of temporary calm for Gaza’s civilians. Despite that, during that ceasefire on Saturday, the IDF Blog reported that an Israeli soldier was killed by a Gaza rocket. Israel paid in blood for giving Gazans a break.
Unlike in the past, where Hamas has taken opportunities for a ceasefire as a chance to prepare for the next conflict, they have actually used ceasefires in this round to better fight this war.
Not surprisingly, The Jerusalem Post reported that a poll found that 86.5 percent of Israelis are now opposed to a new long-term ceasefire with Hamas.
Time and again Hamas has rejected chances for peace, and now Israelis appear to have given up on reaching that without more fighting.
It didn’t have to be this way, but for Hamas, it’s not exactly new.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, July 27, 2014)