Hamas has decided to enter a unilateral cease-fire with Israel and to stop the launching of rockets at Israeli cities. This sudden reversal after more than a week of constant barrage comes courtesy of an announced change in Israeli strategy -- in which they would target the political leaders of Hamas:
Israel's threat to target senior Hamas leaders in response to the Kassam rocket attacks from Gaza has prompted the group to agree to a unilateral cease-fire with Israel, Palestinian Authority officials said Wednesday.
"Hamas wants to stop the Kassam rockets. They are especially worried about reports that Israel may assassinate [PA Prime Minister] Ismail Haniyeh and [Hamas chief] Khaled Mashaal," the officials told The Jerusalem Post.
The officials were speaking shortly after PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Haniyeh met in Gaza City to discuss the possibility of declaring a unilateral truce with Israel. Journalists were not allowed to cover the meeting, which was held under tight security.
"At first, Haniyeh did not want to attend the meeting because of Israeli threats to kill him," said one PA official. "The venue and time of the meeting were only agreed upon at the last minute for security reasons. Hamas is taking the Israeli threats very seriously."
Hamas officials in Syria engaged in stand-up comedy when complaining about the new Israeli strategy. They called it "state terror" and an assassination threat against "an elected prime minister". They conveniently forgot to mention his status as the head of the organization that has chucked bombs at Israeli citizens for weeks, and really off and on for years. This announcement shows that Haniyeh could have stopped these rocket attacks at any time, which makes him a terrorist first and foremost.
Normally, a nation will avoid killing the political leadership of an enemy during wartime in order to allow for a clear line of command in case of surrender. Chaos can create even greater problems than the head of state can cause while remaining in power. In this case, though, Hamas created chaos deliberately. This gave the Israelis no incentive to keep the Palestinian leadership intact, especially those belonging to the terrorist organization.
Hamas apparently didn't see the change coming. Perhaps they felt that Haniyeh and his deputies had built some international standing, and that Israel wouldn't take the risk of attacking their political leadership. Instead, Israel proved that the political leadership has no daylight between themselves and the terrorist leadership, and that they have had enough of Hamas in any form.
The next time the rockets fly, Israel should just dispense with the warning and start taking out Haniyeh and his deputies from the top down. That will make it even more clear to the next set of terrorists that replace them.
UPDATE: Apparently, Hamas didn't learn its lesson:
More than 30 senior officials from the Palestinian militant group Hamas have been detained by Israeli forces in overnight raids in the West Bank.
Those taken, mainly in Nablus, include the Palestinian education minister, three lawmakers and three mayors.
The Israeli military said the detentions were made because the officials "supported the firing of rockets" into Israel, AFP reported.
AFP and the BBC report that the captures, which included the Education Minister, took place after intensive rocket fire resumed -- which shows that Hamas has no intention of conducting any cease-fire with anyone. This mission presumably intends to serve as a final warning to Hamas leadership. We'll see if that has any effect.