Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Why Do Palestinian Terrorist Groups Agree to Cease-Fires?

In the News Myth and Fact
“Palestinian terrorist groups agreed to a cease-fire to advance the peace process.”


In an effort to stop the nearly daily onslaught of rockets from Gaza, Israeli officials have discussed the possibility of a cease-fire with the Hamas terrorists bombarding the Israeli civilian population. Egypt and others have also tried to mediate a cessation of terror that would allow Israel to end its counterterror measures. Rather than agree to a simple cease-fire, however, Hamas, has engaged in verbal gymnastics to suggest it will adopt a policy that will, at best, offer a temporary respite while the organization continues to build up its arsenal to pursue its long-term goal of destroying Israel.

The latest example of this Hamas tactic is the proposal in May 2008 to accept a “tahdiyah,” or period of calm. Earlier, in June 2003, Islamic Jihad and Hamas agreed to a hudna in response to demands from then Palestinian Authority prime minister Mahmoud Abbas to stop their attacks on Israel so he could fulfill his obligations under the Middle East road map. The agreement was interpreted in the Western media as the declaration of a cease-fire, which was hailed as a step forward in the peace process. Violence continued after the supposed cease-fire, however, and Israeli intelligence found evidence the Palestinians exploited the situation to reorganize their forces. They recruited suicide bombers, increased the rate of production of Qassam rockets, and sought to extend their range. Over the last five years since the declaration of the hudna, attacks on Israel increased and Hamas succeeded in smuggling in more weapons with longer ranges.

While any cessation of violence against Israeli civilians is to be welcomed, it is important to understand the cease-fire the radical Islamic groups are contemplating in the Muslim context.

The media and some political leaders portray a hudna as a truce or a cease-fire designed to bring peace. Though the term hudna does refer to a temporary cession of hostilities, it has historically been used as a tactic aimed at allowing the party declaring the hudna to regroup while tricking an enemy into lowering its guard. When the hudna expires, the party that declared it is stronger and the enemy weaker. The term comes from the story of the Muslim conquest of Mecca. Instead of a rapid victory, Muhammad made a ten-year treaty with the Kuraysh tribe. In 628 AD, after only two years of the ten-year treaty, Muhammad and his forces concluded that the Kuraysh were too weak to resist. The Muslims broke the treaty and took over all of Mecca without opposition.212

A modern-day hudna is not a form of compromise, rather it is a tactical tool to gain a military advantage. Hamas has used it no fewer than 10 times in 10 years.


Source: Myths & Facts Online -- A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard.

See also Mitchell Bard's blog: