So much for the notion that Hamas is pursuing a “truce” with Israel. The Jerusalem Post reports:
One Kassam rocket exploded on Monday night in open territory in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council after two further rockets exploded earlier in the evening. One of the rockets that fell south of Ashkelon earlier sparked a fire near a kibbutz, and was later doused police said.
The attacks once again placed reports of an unofficial ceasefire in question and have shattered a period of around 8 hours when no projectiles were fired at southern Israel.
I spoke this afternoon to an Israeli official authorized to speak only on background who stressed that Israel retains its right to pursue terrorists who strike at innocents. Hamas is apparently desirous of reestablishing calm. Israel does not negotiate with Hamas, but Egypt is reportedly attempting to urge the Gaza terrorists to cease their attacks. The official reiterated that the Jewish state will not put its security in the hands of Hamas terrorists who may for the sake of convenience momentarily halt their barrage. In short, Israel will continue to strike at those launching or attempting to launch attacks on Israel.
I asked him why he thought Hamas had stepped up the violence beginning last Thursday. (An Israeli source confirms nine Israelis have been killed (including two soldiers), more than 100 have been wounded, more than 100 rockets have been launched from Gaza and 1 million Israelis have taken to shelters.) The official responded, “Terrorists are terrorists. They go for it if they see [an opportunity]. They don’t need an excuse.” He adds that the attacks should dispel the notion that Hamas is going to moderate itself or become a peaceful part of a unity government. There is Hamas, a terrorist group, and there is the PA, a more moderate political organization, he explains.
Hamas almost certainly is looking ahead to the U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood in September, seeking to flex its muscles. But that leaves open the question for every U.N. member that is considering voting to recognize a Palestinian state: What kind of state are they voting for — a terror state that kills women and children and targets schools, hospitals and bedroom communities or a more moderate PA state that seeks peaceful coexistence with Israel? That there should be a vote when that question still looms only reinforces the irresponsibility of those supporting a unilateral declaration of statehood for the Palestinians.
The role of Egypt in this is a delicate one. It is logical that the terrorists would have entered south Israel through Gaza rather than have traveled more than 250 kilometers from Gaza. But Israel is now at pains to maintain its relationship with Egypt. The Israeli official stressed that the Jewish state had expressed “regret”over the accidental death of Egyptian soldiers in an Israeli counterattack and indicated that Israel and Egypt had agreed to a joint investigation into the incident. He emphasized that the peace treaty Israel has with Egypt is “the most important agreement we have” and essential for stability in the region. He added, “Nobody in Israel wants to see Egyptians killed or wounded.”
The last few days have demonstrated that Hamas has not changed its stripes and is unlikely to moderate its conduct any time soon. Those nations that support the U.N. vote should consider whether they will in fact be stoking violence and empowering Hamas. After all, the day after the U.N. vote, the checkpoints will be there and nothing will have changed on the ground. In such circumstances the potential exists for violence instigated by Hamas. How soon before frustration with the lack of real statehood boils over?
The Hamas terror spree should be a wake-up call to the United Nations and those countries in the region. The root of the Palestinian-Israeli problem (and its destabilizing impact on surrounding countries) is and has always been the determination of Israel’s enemies to kill Jews and destroy the Jewish state. Until that changes there will be no peace.