Israel: Hamas Hustles For Ceasefire It Can Live With

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March 19,2008: Hamas is trying to keep its radicals and moderates from tearing the organization apart. The radicals insist on making more terror attacks on Israel, and are willing to accept aid from Syria, Hizbollah (in Lebanon) and Iran to do it. This creates more counter-terror activity from Israel, including attempts to kill Hamas leaders. The moderates want to pull back from the terrorism and deal with practical problems in Gaza, and within the Palestinian community (the struggle with Fatah over who should run the Palestinian state.) The Hamas solution has been to cut back on some of the terrorism, and push negotiations with Fatah. If the Israelis invade Gaza, Hamas will lose.

In response to Syrian threats (of revenge, because of the killing of Hizbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh), it was revealed that, late last month, Israel threatened Syria with attacks on its capital and other key targets in Syria, if Hizbollah launched attacks on Israel. This, apparently, did not cover arranging terrorist attacks in Jerusalem.

Fatah and Hamas are trying to work over an arrangement whereby new elections, for control of all Palestinians, would be held. This is a gamble, and the negotiations are all about how the elections will be run, and who will have the best opportunity to fix the elections. The Hamas moderates apparently have an edge, partly because, while most Palestinians still want to destroy Israel, day-to-day life is terrible, and some kind of ceasefire is preferable to Israel taking over Gaza again. This is what Israeli generals advise as the only way to stop the rocket attacks.

March 14, 2008: Hamas revealed a new weapon, smuggled in from Egypt, when they used a 14.5mm machine-gun to hit an Israeli helicopter. The damaged chopper went back to its base. The longer range (up to 5,000 feet) 14.5mm weapon will now force Israeli helicopters to stay at higher altitudes more often. The Israelis will now hunt down the 14.5mm machine-guns (apparently about a dozen of the 108 pound, two meter long, weapons were smuggled into Gaza), which will result in more dead and wounded Palestinians.

March 13, 2008: Four Kassam rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel. No one was injured.

March 12, 2008: Israeli police killed four members of West Bank terrorist organization Islamic Jihad. Israel claimed the terrorists were planning an attack. Islamic Jihad claimed this violated the ceasefire and that they would attack. And so it goes.

March 11, 2008: For three days, Israel halted raids into Gaza, and most rocket and mortar attacks halted (one rocket and one mortar shell has been fired).

March 8, 2008: Israel and Hamas agreed to an informal ceasefire. Both sides know that the there will not be total peace. Some of the more radical Hamas factions, plus non-Hamas terrorists, will continue to make attacks. The Israeli counter-terror forces will continue to hunt down known terrorists, and defend against terror attacks, or attempts to cross the Israeli border.

March 6, 2008: In Jerusalem, an Arab resident of the city went into a Jewish religious school and shot to death eight students. Hamas and Hizbollah took credit for planning the attack (recruiting an Arab resident of Jerusalem and getting him weapons).

 

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