Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hamas Credo Led It to End Cease-Fire

Connected to the post below, Why Israel feels threatened.

On the wall of the Israeli government press office in Jerusalem on Monday was a stack of yellow Post-it notes pasted one on top of the next, with the number 10,048 scrawled on the top one. That was the number of Palestinian rockets and mortar shells fired into Israel from Gaza since 2001.

That is more than 1,400 a year.

For Hamas, the very existence of that number in an Israeli office is an achievement. As plumes of smoke rise from Gaza, it is Hamas that dominates the television news and newspaper headlines.

Hamas gains status and publicity as the resistance movement to Israel. Cynical, but effective.

Even knowing that retaliation was certain, Hamas seemed to end the cease-fire in part because of its longstanding discipline and consistency. For years it has preached to Palestinians the rejectionist credo that Fatah negotiated with Israel and got nowhere; Hamas’s way of armed force, it argued year in and year out, was the only way.

True. Negotiations got next to nothing accomplished. Resistance, such as it is, confers some dignity where there is little else.

Some in Gaza believe Hamas wants Israeli soldiers to enter the Gaza Strip, because it has had 18 months to smuggle weapons in through tunnels from the Sinai since it seized control of the territory from Fatah. For the last several years, after Israel’s pullout from Gaza in 2005 and its erection of a barrier around the West Bank, it has been harder to strike at Israelis.

Israel, though, is aware of the risks and will not reflexively mount a large-scale military return to Gaza.

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