Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The one mistake Hamas should not commit: accept a ceasefire

To its great credit, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has expressed many doubts about the rationale behind the Israeli assault on Gaza from the very first day of the operation. Today Haaretz published two analytical reports which are very interesting. The first one, entitled Operation Cast Lead in Gaza is entering its problematic phase ,and the second one, entitled Hamas is hoping for an IDF ground operation, are both strongly implying that a ground operation could result in a disaster for Israel and that Hamas would come out greatly strengthened from such an attack. Then there is a recent article in Press TV entitled Stop Gaza attacks for new ceasefire in which a "top Hamas official rules out any talk of a new ceasefire with Israel unless all missile strikes on Gaza stop and border crossings open". The analysts for Haaretz - Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff and Aluf Benn - are absolutely correct. The thing that worries me is that they are also suggesting that Hamas is at least thinking about the terms under which it might accept to return to the negotiating table. See, I am not worried about Hamas being too intransigent in a search for a ceasefire, I am worried about Hamas being willing to consider *any* ceasefire before truly inflicting a humiliating defeat on Israel.

Considering all its past mistakes and miscalculations, it is absolutely essential, vital really, for Hamas to clearly and unequivocally prevail against Israel in the current war. If Israel is allowed to walk away from "Operation Cast Lead" (who cooks up these stupid names anyway?!) with its head held high there is a great risk that this kind of criminal assault will be repeated in the future. Hezbollah, for example, only agreed to a ceasefire after Israel and clearly exhausted *all* of its military options without even so much as a trace of an achieved objective. Hamas now needs hunker down, force Israel into a ground offensive and prevail. Even though the cost in terms of human lives and suffering will be huge, that is the only way to prevent Israel from repeating this over and over again each time its hapless politicians need to win an election and show that they are "tough".

In the past, Hamas got itself drawn into a utterly counterproductive "ceasefire" with Israel and into lengthy and equally counterproductive negotiations with Israel via Egypt. This strategy of negotiations resulted in a blockade of Gaza which was gradually turning into a genocide. Hamas needs to learn from these mistakes and stop all negotiations with Israel and its puppets in the Middle-East.

What Israel did in Hamas is criminal by any standards. Israel violated the basic norms of civilized behavior, it committed grievous human rights violations and the current "Operation Cast Lead" is a textbook example of war crimes. The Palestinian people are now at a crucial moment in their history. They can either settle for some lame ceasefire deal with Israel, or they can make the Zionist Jews realize once and for all that the time when they could massacre Palestinians with impunity is truly over.

Hamas now has a real chance to become the "Palestinian Hezbollah", but for that Hamas needs to stay away from any negotiations or ceasefire before Israel is severely defeated. Any premature ceasefire will only serve to multiply and prolong the suffering of the Palestinian people.

The Saker