By Yaakov Katz
THE TERROR GROUP HAS MADE A STRATEGIC DECISION TO INCREASE ATTACKS AGAINST ISRAEL, BUT IT DOESN'T WANT TO GO TOO FAR AND LEAD TO AN IDF GROUND OPERATION.
Hamas is on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand it has made a strategic decision to increase its terror attacks against Israel -- 10 rockets were fired into Israel on Wednesday -- in order to torpedo the peace talks between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
On the other hand, Hamas does not want to go too far with its attacks, to the point that Israel will feel compelled to send two IDF divisions into Gaza and carry out Operation Cast Lead II.
As a result, Hamas in recent weeks has allowed the jaljalat (Arabic for thunder) groups -- al-Qaida and global jihad proxies based in Gaza and made up mostly of former Hamas operatives -- to launch attacks into Israel.
While it has given these groups the green light for small operations, it is also restraining them and not allowing large attacks that could end in many casualties on the Israeli side and force the IDF back into Gaza.
Hamas's hope is that these attacks will torpedo the peace talks, although the meeting on Wednesday at the prime minister's official residence in Jerusalem between Netanyahu and Abbas is an indication that the terror group's efforts are not, for the moment, succeeding.
For the same reason, Hamas claimed responsibility for the shooting attack two weeks ago near Hebron that killed four Israelis, although the IDF is still not certain that Hamas was behind it.
There are, however, additional factors. Hamas in Gaza is torn between two camps. The first is the political echelon led by Ismail Haniyeh, which is believed to be more in favor of restraint because it fears a harsh Israeli response.
The second camp is led by Hamas's military wing Izzadin Kassam and its chief Ahmed Jabari, who is pushing to return to the days before Cast Lead, pre- December 2008, when it was firing dozens of rockets a day.
While Hamas's focus is on rebuilding damaged infrastructure and obtaining new longrange rockets, the military wing is genuinely frustrated with the restrictions placed on its freedom to attack Israel.
In contrast to the media, the IDF did not make a big deal Wednesday about the firing of at least two mortar shells containing phosphorus into Israel. Firstly, it is not the first time that phosphorus mortar shells were fired into Israel -- it happened during Cast Lead -- and secondly, the assessment within the Southern Command is that the group that fired the shells did not even know that they contained phosphorus.
As a matter of fact, phosphorus shells contain less explosives than regular ones and therefore create less shrapnel. On the other hand, they are highly flammable.
Israel, for its part, plans to continue with its current policy, which can be described as an "eye-for-an-eye."
On the one hand, Israel will strike back at Gaza, as it did Wednesday afternoon by bombing a terror tunnel in southern Gaza, but on the other hand, it will not, at this stage, launch a major operation on the ground inside Gaza.
This stems from intelligence assessments that the current wave of violence will run out following the Jewish holiday season in a little over a week. The belief is that Hamas is letting its operatives and proxies let off steam from a month of Ramadan when it did not really attack Israel at all.
The same intelligence assessments predict, though, that while this wave will soon end, it will not be the last and as the peace talks pick up speed and progress, so will the terrorism from Gaza.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -