Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip since mid
June, has been recently calling for reaching a ceasefire deal with
Israel, raising questions about its motivation behind the new
The Palestinians were astonished after Ismail Haneya, deposed
Palestinian premier and Hamas leader in Gaza, expressed Monday the
movement's readiness to seek a ceasefire with Israel and a
cessation of rocket attacks from Gaza.
Analysts were divided on understanding why does Hamas, in this
particular circumstance, has unilaterally agreed to have a
cease-fire agreement with Israel.
The movement, which marked on Dec. 15 its 20-year anniversary of
founding, has been behind carrying out dozens of armed and suicide
bombing attacks into Israel. It is still considered by Israel, the
United States and Europe as a terrorist organization.
Jamal Abu Tahoun, a Gaza academic said that after Israel decided
to escalate attacks on Gaza militant groups, mainly Hamas and
Islamic Jihad, "Hamas was afraid that such attacks would keep the
movement weak for a long period of time."
"Hamas movement wants to keep being politically and militarily
strong. It doesn't want to loose its only prominent leaders, and in
the meanwhile, doesn't want to loose its control of Gaza," said Abu
The Israeli government and the military and security
establishments are in favor of launching a large-scale military
operation into the Gaza Strip, while many Israeli leaders have said
that Israel is ready to reoccupy the Gaza Strip for several months
and strongly rein on militant groups.
"This means that Hamas as well as all other militant groups
active in the Gaza Strip would finish or at least would be
exhausted as a result of the ongoing fighting in case Israel
carries out the operation," said a Gaza analyst.
Palestinian Ministry of Health figures showed that since holding
the US-host Annapolis peace conference last month, more than 50
Palestinian militants, main from Islamic Jihad and Hamas, had been
killed in the Gaza Strip during Israeli air and ground strikes.
Even in Israel, it was a surprise for many Israeli leaders in
the government and in the army about Hamas' offer for a ceasefire.
Some of them supported an idea to negotiate with Hamas indirectly
in order to stop armed and rockets attacks against Israel.
"I believe that Hamas offer for a ceasefire was very smart,"
said Hassan el-Nazer, a Palestinian politician from Gaza.
He held that the announcement of Haneya "had divided the
Israelis and confused them. Some leaders accepted the offer to
rescue the Israeli towns from more rockets and some had disagreed
because they believe that the calm period would enable Hamas to
rebuilt its military abilities."
Since Hamas has taken over the Gaza Strip in mid June and ousted
President Mahmoud Abbas' security forces, Israel has imposed a
tighten closure on the poor, narrow and densely populated
"I believe that the Israeli closure imposed on Gaza and the
world's embargo imposed on Hamas government had made moderate
leaders in Hamas to think carefully that a cease-fire might lead to
a breakthrough and to an end to the suffocating siege," al-Nazer
said on telephone.
A moderate aide to Haneya, welcomed the idea of a mutual
ceasefire with Israel, making a precondition involving an Israeli
"If there was a chance for a calmness ending the suffering of
our people, then this will be a national interest that it must be
dealt with under the condition that Israel must stick to it,
"Haneya's political advisor, Ahmed Yousef, told reporters.
However, Nabil Amer, an aid to President Abbas, slammed Hamas'
call for a ceasefire with Israel, saying: "Hamas insists to offer
Israel a free cease-fire" and "this shows the secret love
relationship between Hamas and Israel."
"If Hamas is really interested in a ceasefire with Israel, why
it doesn't accept the cease-fire agreement that President Abbas had
reached with Israel in November, 2006," said Amer.
Meanwhile, Khaled al-Batsh, a senior Islamic Jihad (Holy War)
leader from Gaza said his movement rejects a cease-fire with
Israel. "There is no possibility to speak about cease-fire with the
enemy, which never stopped assassinations and incursion against our
people and our militants."
Dozens of Islamic Jihad militants were killed in the last two
weeks, including senior Islamic Jihad militant Majed
Politician al-Nazer said "Hamas threw the ball at the Israeli
playground, and now it is waiting for results from the Israeli
side," adding "let us wait and see what the coming days would bring
for the Gazans and for Hamas."
In fact, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday rejected
the proposed cease-fire with Hamas, saying that the government
would not talk with the Islamist group until it recognizes Israel,
local media reported.
During a weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert said that "the state of
Israel has no interest in negotiating with entities that do not
recognize the (international) Quartet demands."
Israeli army's clash with Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in
Gaza are nothing short of a war, he said, adding "we cannot
describe it any other way... we will keep fighting terror while
doing our best to avoid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza."
(Xinhua News Agency December 24, 2007)