It has also been acknowledged by Palestinian officials (and
reported by an Israeli thinktank, the IDC in Herzliya) that
a group called Jandallah, described as an offshoot of Al-Qaeda
and with strong links in Pakistan and Afghanistan, is now active
Hamas has admitted that its so-called “lull”
in violence is a tactical deception
Hamas is aiming to increase its control in Gaza following the
Israeli pullout, capitalising on the perception on the Palestinian
“street” that the Palestinian Authority is weak
and corrupt. The political role of Hamas in the future remains
unclear, but most analysts consider it will increase.
Hamas is taking “credit” among Palestinians for
“forcing” Israel to disengage, and is also poising
itself for resumed violence. It has made no secret of the fact
that its “halt” to the killing of Israelis is a
tactical deception. For instance, in the words of Khaled Mashal,
head of the political bureau of Hamas: “In the eyes of
Hamas, tahdiah [calm] is a trick within the resistance plans…
I cannot be satisfied with the 1967 borders alone….”
[stated at a convention hosted in April by Egyptian newspaper
Al-Ahram, and reported by Memri, Report No 894 – see www.memri.org)
Al Aqsa Martyrs and Islamic Jihad continue suicide bombings
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, affiliated to Fatah, continues
despatching suicide bombers. In recent months, it has made a
concerted effort to recruit teenagers (see for example Briefing
Islamic Jihad rejects the very concept of a “lull”
in violence, or a “ceasefire”. The 12 July suicide
bombing in Netanya was by Islamic Jihad; and they have attempted
massive suicide attacks against Israeli population centres in
recent weeks (see Briefing 144).
It is only the vigilance of Israel’s security forces
that has prevented further carnage by Al Aqsa and Islamic Jihad.
The Palestinian leadership refuses to assert control
over terrorist groups
The Palestinian Authority has repeatedly made clear that it
will not disarm the Al Aqsa Martyrs or Islamic Jihad. The Al
Aqsa Martyrs continually flout the Palestinian Authority, and
intimidate its leaders (see Briefing 147).
Islamic Jihad is attempting overtly to undermine the elected
Palestinian leadership, and wreck Israeli-Palestinian relations.
The attempts by the Palestinian Authority to integrate Palestinian
security forces into one entity are failing, as well.
Mahmoud Abbas demands an unconditional ‘right
of return’ for all refugees
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has restated his demand for
an unconditional right of return into Israel for Palestinian
refugees (see Beyond Images Briefing 142). This formula is guaranteed
to perpetuate long-term conflict, and fuel Palestinian violence
against Israel whatever the location of Israel’s withdrawal
Palestinians exploit Israeli goodwill gestures to continue attacks
The international community, and many within Israel, repeatedly
clamour for Israel to take “goodwill gestures” to
enable Mahmoud Abbas to show his people that they have “something
to gain” from his leadership, and from relations with
Israel. In the first months of Abbas’s leadership, Israel
took many such steps (see Briefing 134),
and in June 2005 Israel carried out a substantial prisoner release.
But these steps are being exploited by terrorist groups. An
Israeli army spokesman has stated that the recent shooting dead
of two Israeli teenagers near Hebron by Palestinian gunmen (see
above) was the result of the relaxation of Israeli checkpoint
controls in that area. And Israeli intelligence fears that the
Palestinians may use any future road or rail link between post-disengagement
Gaza and the West Bank as a conduit for hand-held missiles and
other weaponry into the West Bank.
Demonisation and mosque incitement against Israel continue
For many years Israel has complained bitterly about anti-Israeli
and anti-Jewish incitement by Muslim clerics in Gaza and the
West Bank. While the Palestinian Authority has declared that
it wishes to curb this incitement (see Briefing
118), in reality it has continued. The speech on Friday
13 May by Gaza preacher Ibrahim Mdaires (see Memri Briefing
908 at www.memri.org) contained
a litany of anti-semitic accusations and vilification (plus
explicit threats to bomb Britain). He remains in his position:
the Palestinian Authority refused to remove him.
Moshe Ya’alon: the prospect of future violence following
It is not entirely surprising, against this background, that
the outgoing Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon warned
in an interview with Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz in June
that Palestinian self-rule could “lead to war” in
the future. He suggested that, following disengagement, violence
against Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem would resume, and that there
would be no stability. And he pointed out that the Palestinian
‘right of return’ implies that “there will
not be a Jewish state”.
Yaalon was criticised by some in Israel for being “defeatist”
and motivated by “bitterness” following his premature
departure from office. But others praised him for speaking about
the “objective facts”, and their implications.
Beyond Images Conclusion
Disengagement was intended to create momentum for peace and
for resumed negotiation. It was intended to encourage forces
of Palestinian moderation.
Instead, the Palestinian culture of violence and ideological
extremism are unrelenting.
For Israeli supporters of disengagement, this is a crushing
disappointment. For Israeli opponents of disengagement, it confirms
Observers continue to press Israel to disengage, and the Israeli
government is committed to doing so. But those observers should
also acknowledge that, disengagement is now an extremely and
dangerous process for Israeli society.
Other Beyond Images resources
Ariel Sharon, Disengagement and the Palestinians (Briefing
127, January 2005)