"Only the very naïve will get ‘excited’ about this statement"

For Your Glory: Special Jerusalem Report

June 25, 2003

One of the five top Hamas officials, Abu Shanab, said in an interview late last night in Gaza City that Hamas envisions a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, in what might be the group's first public recognition of the state of Israel. The statement, unprecedented in an organization which had called for the eventual destruction of Israel, closely followed reports by both Israeli and Egyptian officials that Hamas is on the brink of declaring a cease-fire with Israel.

Hamas has come under intense, Egyptian, Palestinian, European and American pressure in recent weeks to curb terrorism against Israel, enabling the road map to move forward.

"What is the point in speaking in rhetoric," said Abu Shanab, "lets be frank, we cannot destroy Israel. The practical solution is for us to have a state along side Israel." The moderate tenor of his statements have often conflicted with the inciting rhetoric of the more militant Hamas leaders like the group's number two, Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

Only the very naïve will get ‘excited’ about this statement, given the lessons of history. Even though the fact that the statement was made is quite noteworthy, nevertheless, history demands great caution and skepticism in light of the long stated agenda of Hamas and other groups like it, particularly Islamic Jihad. One could be more concerned about the well being of Shanab after making this statement, unless of course, it was scripted ahead of time for propaganda purposes and Shanab was chosen as spokesman because as a moderate, he would stand a better chance of being believed.


According to this morning’s Israeli papers, Hamas appears to have decided in principle to carry out a cease-fire for three months, an IDF intelligence Branch official told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today. However, the group is interested in downplaying its move and its terms, the official said. The cease-fire would be in effect in both Israel and the territories, according to the official, although no formal decision has yet been made, as talks continue within the organizations and with the Palestinian Authority. Hamas has also not yet decided to whom to give its cease-fire commitment: PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas or Egypt, he said.

Similarly, the Associated Press is reporting from Cairo that the Egyptian government expects Palestinian groups to declare a cease-fire in attacks on Israel within the next few days. The Lebanese representative of Hamas, Osama Hamdan, declined to confirm or deny that a truce was imminent, saying only that there would be no such announcement in Cairo on Tuesday.

Israel will grant the Palestinians a "grace period" and won't initiate military activity after an agreement is reached to transfer security control in Gaza and Bethlehem to the PA,, a senior diplomatic official said yesterday. The official said this period will likely last between three to four weeks. Concurrently however, even during this time period Israel will not give up its option of targeted killings of "ticking bombs" terrorists on their way to carrying out attacks on Israel if there is no other way to stop them.

Among the "other ways" of stopping them, he said, would be arrests either by the PA security forces, or by Israel. In recent days senior officials have indicated that once the PA takes over security control, Israel will give the re-organized Palestinian security apparatus specific intelligence information and be watching carefully to see if it acts on it.

"A cease fire is welcome as long as there is a complete cessation of terror and violence," the official said. "To the extent that it gives the PA time to impose authority then it is acceptable and we are not going to get involved in any way. But as far as we are concerned there is only one address responsible for security, and that is the Palestinian Authority government and its newly appointed leaders."

If the cease fire breaks down and the terror returns, the official said, there will be no progress on the road map, the Palestinians will not get a provisional state, and Israel will be forced to continue to fight the terror groups as it has done until now. Details of the transfer of security control in Gaza and Bethlehem still have to hammered out, but in all likelihood it will be done in phases. Israel has made it clear it will not accept a trickle of drive-by shootings to replace the suicide bombings. "This is intolerable, and we will not play by those rules," the official said.

After 1,000 days of terror and violence, 810 Israelis and people from other countries have been killed in Palestinian terror attacks, an IDF official said today. Some 5,600 have been injured. Of that total number of fatalities, 567 were civilians, while 243 were soldiers, the IDF told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Don’t pass over quickly “…some 5,600 have been injured…” The grief over those who have been brutally killed goes on. What often gets forgotten are the thousands who are daily faced with the continuing agony of recovery from devastating injuries…not just physical recovery but mental and emotional recovery as well. A little girl of 8 who has no legs anymore because of a terror attack, for instance….a young boy of 12 who lost both arms and used to love to paint…. A 19 year old soldier who can’t bring himself to leave his home because of the terrible disfigurement of his face which used to be so handsome….these are the realities that hundreds of families here must cope with on a daily basis, like the families pictured in our report on the distribution of the Shavuot offerings.

Don’t forget them….don’t forget to pray for their recovery, rehabilitation and courage to face a future with the kind of moral strength and courage of a young man I recently heard about. Having lost both arms through terrorism, he now does amazing art work with his feet and is determined to make his life productive no matter what. If you have arms and legs today, stop a moment and thank God…..and then pray for those who don’t.