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June 9, 2006
The End Of The Non-Truce

Hamas has announced the end of a truce that never was, after a series of artillery exchanges between Palestinians in Gaza and the IDF resulted in seven civilian deaths on a Gaza beach, apparently from an errant Israeli volley. After the seven victims died on the beach, Hamas angrily announced their renunciation of the truce:

Hamas militants called off a truce with Israel on Friday after a barrage of Israeli artillery shells tore into Palestinians at a beachside picnic in the Gaza Strip, killing seven civilians.

The declaration raised the prospect of a new wave of bloodshed. Hamas militants suspended a campaign of deadly suicide attacks on Israelis with a February 2005 cease-fire, and have largely stuck to the truce. The Islamic group now leads the Palestinian government.

"The earthquake in the Zionist towns will start again and the aggressors will have no choice but to prepare their coffins or their luggage," the Hamas militants said in a leaflet. "The resistance groups ... will choose the proper place and time for the tough, strong and unique response."

The Israeli artillery attack was part of a wider aerial and artillery bombardment of suspected Palestinian rocket-launching sites that killed a total of 10 people Friday.

It would be easier to take this seriously if (a) the so-called truce hadn't resulted in almost continuous rocket fire from Gaza into Israel since Israel withdrew from the strip, and (b) Hamas hadn't endorsed the bombing of a Tel Aviv falafel stand two months ago that killed 21 civilians. Granted, Israel has to take responsibility for its collateral damage, and should have declared that area an open range so that civilians could have avoided the beach. However, the point is that Israel had the right to respond to attacks on its nation and citizens from an unoccupied entity, and that Israel wasn't trying to kill random civilians. They were trying to hit the people launching the rockets.

How badly will this damage prospects for peace? Not at all, since there have not been any real prospects for peace since Yasser Arafat stiffed Ehud Barak after getting almost everything for which Arafat had asked. The truce itself was an illusion, a fantasy dreamed up by the Palestinians to get Israel off their back and to play the victim for the Western press. Neither Hamas nor Fatah ever made any attempt to disarm Islamic Jihad, the group responsible for the continuing rocket attacks from Palestinian territory. For that matter, the Palestinian Authority has never even attempted to disarm Fatah or Hamas, despite commitments to do so.

Hamas will have a difficult time attempting to take advantage of the cessation of the hudna in any case. They have provoked Fatah almost to the point of an all-out civil war. Unless Haniyeh can convince Abbas to let bygones be bygones and ally with Hamas to fight a war against Israel that even together they are sure to lose, Hamas will have to fight both Fatah and Israel at the same time. Also, as Israel proved yesterday, the IDF has developed much better intelligence on their leadership -- and with Hamas renouncing the truce, Israel will have no problem putting it to use.

And as far as convincing Abbas to join with Hamas, they already have an answer. Saeb Erekat, Abbas' close advisor, has told the press that Abbas will move ahead with the two-state referendum as planned tomorrow.

In the end, this is just another example of the Palestinian triangle offense, which I predicted last April would eventually end with an Israeli counter-attack. I've been pointing this out since January 2005, and nothing has changed since.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 9, 2006 8:59 PM

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