Hamas: “Not a Ceasefire, Just a Hudna”

by | May 26, 2021 |

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on Israeli television on May 15th and said, “The party that bears the guilt for this confrontation is not us, it’s those attacking us . . . .Unlike Hamas, which deliberately intends to harm civilians while hiding behind civilians, we are doing everything, but everything, to avoid or limit as much as possible harming civilians and to directly strike terrorists instead. . . .We are still in the midst of this operation, it is still not over, and this operation will continue as long as necessary.”

Although President Joe Biden had just told Netanyahu that he expected a significant de-escalation,” it took nearly a week until Netanyahu was ready to announce that Israel had agreed to a “ceasefire” with Hamas. Hamas confirmed it but called it a “hudna.”  Not a victory for either side, although both claimed it, an intermission, by definition. 

What is a “hudna”?

Well, the word hudna is an Arabic term that in translation means “calm” or “truce.” But a hudna in the real world is not just any truce or ceasefire. A hudna is a time-honored, tactical truce that is intended to give the illusion that peace is the goal, when, in fact, it is actually being used as a period of calm in which Muslim armies can rebuild their military strength until it is strong enough to reengage with the enemy.  

This is not a new tactic. It began with Muhammad.

In 628 AD, when Mohammed’s forces were too weak to conquer the rival Kurdish tribes, Mohammed agreed to a ten-year truce with his enemies. But it was only two years later when, having rebuilt his army to the point that it was strong enough, Mohammed broke his word and attacked them, defeated them, conquered the city of Mecca, and consolidated his power. 

In short, hudna is the tactical vehicle through which the Islamic principle of taqiyya (lying for the sake of Islam) can be applied to warfare when facing a superior military power. 

In 1993, Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chief Yasser Arafat stood with President Bill Clinton on the White House lawn and signed the Oslo Accord, which was supposed to ensure lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But it didn’t take long (in fact, it was the very next day) for the lie to be revealed: when Arafat rushed to assure the Palestinians and the rest of the Muslim world – in Arabic – that his act of signing the accord was merely a hudna, a stalling mechanism that he told them could be broken at any time. 

Hamas has done this many times. They have accepted a “cease-fire” engineered by others, and then, when they were ready, they re-engaged in a new war against Israel with rockets, flaming kites and balloons, infiltration through terror tunnels, and other acts of terror. 

This time is much the same. According to Hamas spokesperson Abdel-Latif al-Qanou, Hamas confirmed the cease-fire but added that it had imposed its own conditions on the terms. Israel has withdrawn in the face of the armed resistance,” he said, and did not obtain any of its objectives it said it would when it launched its offensive. . . . Israel is now being tested, and the resistance groups in Gaza are watching how it will react.” And then he gave a perfect description of hudna.  

He said, This ceasefire is but a pause, a chance to gain more strength to confront any further Israeli aggression.”

War by the numbers

In reality, Israel’s “Operation Guardian of the Walls” achieved many of its goals, and Hamas, as it turned out, was significantly out-manned and out-gunned. During the ten days in May 2021 in which Israeli and Hamas forces engaged in a war that Hamas began with a hail of rockets, the terrorists launched some 4,340 rockets, all of which were aimed at the Israeli population centers and were fired without warning. That is an average of 400 rockets every day, or one every three and a half minutes.  

The rockets came without warning, and they targeted Israel’s most vulnerable civilians from Israel’s south and the coastal cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon⏤to the heavily populated region north of Tel Aviv.  

In response, the IDF struck some 30 rocket launching posts in the Gaza Strip, including a number of terror cells as they were attempting to launch rockets into Israel. All in all, the IDF struck approximately 430 Hamas and Islamic Jihad rocket launchers, and more than 20 rocket-launching terrorists. Israel’s Iron Dome Air Defense System, which protects Israel from incoming rockets, also proved its value with an intercept rate of approximately 90% and intercepted hundreds of incoming rockets. 

The news mostly damns Israel

These numbers are not secret. The world knew about them, even as the fighting was going on. Yet, the vast majority of the international press assailed Israel for its aggression, even though it was clear that Israel had only responded to Hamas’ barrage of rockets. The press said little to nothing about the attacks on Israeli civilians that had started this brief war.

Imagine⏤If just one rocket were intentionally launched against the US from, let’s say, Canada. Would we ignore it? And if 400 rockets were launched, not for one day, but every day for ten days, how would we react. That’s more rockets than the Germans launched at Great Britain during the entire Second World War. 

Would we ignore more than 4,300 rockets fired at American civilians in American cities today? And what would the world press say if we refused to ignore it but responded in kind?

Well, Israel responded with a force that was neither unreasonable nor unexpected. It was many times stronger than even the thousands of Hamas rockets. During those ten days, it was estimated that more than 200 Hamas terrorists, including 25 high-ranking members, had been targeted and killed in surgical IDF strikes. 

A recent intelligence estimate put the number of dead terrorists at 65% of its fighting force. And here’s why: When the Hamas leadership feared an Israeli ground assault, it sent its ‘fighters’ (terrorists) into the terror tunnels they had built, tunnels that were the actual target of a coordinated Israeli airstrike. Many of them were killed when Israeli planes destroyed them. 

Human shields and surgical strikes

It is well-known that Hamas uses its own civilians, the residents of Gaza, as human shields. Israel places a high premium on keeping Gaza’s civilian population safe from harm during its attacks on Hamas. Knowing this, Hamas places its offices, arsenals, and launching sites in and around civilian centers, residential buildings, and even within schools, hospitals, and mosques. These are all targets that Israel is known to avoid if at all possible. Israeli pilots have even been known to turn back from a bombing mission because civilians – women and children – were known to be in the targeted building. Hamas knows this and uses it to their advantage. 

Before the latest hudna began, IDF fighter jets and aircraft struck the 12-story Al Jalaa building in Gaza City that served as offices for some of the international press, including AP and Al Jazeera. This caused an international furor because of what was left out of the press reports. What the press declined to report is that Hamas also had an active military intelligence operation in the same building. They were using the international press as human shields. Prior to the attack, Israel warned the press and the building residents to leave at once and gave them nearly an hour to evacuate. And then they bombed it and reduced it to ashes. Incredibly, the buildings next door remained standing and intact. 

Yet the international voices spoke in unison when they condemned the bombing and blamed Israel for blatant violation of human rights” and war crimes.”

The Associated Press is demanding an independent investigation. They said they know of no evidence of Hamas operating in the building and have asked for evidence from Israel that there were Hamas operatives and offices in the building. That request is, of course, a non-starter. Israel does not share this kind of intelligence with the press, because it would clearly jeopardize the lives of its protected sources. 

No free press in Gaza

One thing about the foreign press in Gaza and the West Bank that is little known to the outside world, except to members of the press themselves (which is how I know), is that when they are posted to these areas, they are warned right from the start that if they do not report the ‘news’ according to the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian line, they will, at best, be forced to leave and, moreover, their lives and the lives of their families may well be in danger. That is no doubt one of the reasons that we hear so little about the atrocities that are visited upon the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank, and so much about the ‘atrocities’ that are committed by Israel. 

The fact that Israel does something as a matter of protocol that no other nations do in times of war goes largely unnoticed: Unlike Hamas, Israel routinely warns the residents of targeted buildings to evacuate and then gives them time – sometimes as long as an hour – to do so. 

And Israel does something else, mentioned earlier: it destroys many of these buildings surgically – which is to say the Israeli missiles are frequently fired from jet fighters through the buildings’ windows and doors with pinpoint accuracy, and takes down individual apartments or the entire buildings where they stand, without destroying the buildings next door. And by doing these two things, they do everything they can to protect civilian life on the ground.

Hamas admits to using human shields in Gaza

So let’s get one thing crystal clear: The loss of civilian life in Gaza was largely due to Hamas’ intentional and cynical use of civilians in Gaza as human shields, forcing them to stay in buildings that they knew had been targeted, even after they have been warned by Israel to leave. And this has been going on for decades. 

One Hamas parliamentarian and senior leader Fathi Hammad once openly admitted that Hamas had been developing a “death-seeking” culture with no compunction against using women, children, and the elderly as human shields against Israeli military attacks. In a speech televised on Hamas’ Al-Aksa television, he revealed Hamas’ incredibly evil strategy regarding the civilians of Gaza: 

“[The enemies of Allah] do not know that the Palestinian people have developed [methods] of death and death-seeking. . . . For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘We desire death like you desire life’ ”.

This is a side of Hamas that most people don’t know anything about – how they use their own people as dispensable pawns in their ideological war against the Jews and the State of Israel. When put in these terms, it becomes clear that Hamas’ war against the Jews is a no-holds-barred battle to the death, and that death for a shahid or ‘martyr’ for Allah – a Muslim one who dies for his faith, is one of glory, not shame.

Why did Israel agree to a cease-fire when they were winning?

Many now question why Netanyahu agreed to the cease-fire when Israel was so close to achieving its objectives – to make it impossible for Hamas to continue its war against the Jewish state. We may never know exactly what drove Israeli decision-makers to conclude that this was the right decision – perhaps it was pressure from Washington, or internal political pressure at home or abroad, a threat from Iran, or a combination of several things – but it has certainly changed the landscape, enabled Hamas to claim victory, and put Israel in another compromised position that comes from something less than strength.

This war is far from over, and the hudna, now in place, is temporary. Hamas has been given yet another opportunity to “build back better,” and the Biden Administration has promised to help – with billions of dollars of American taxpayer money – to rebuild the infrastructure that Hamas destroyed by a combination of neglect and the wanton use of international funding to build terror tunnels instead of housing and infrastructure. And if history once again repeats itself, and the US does not place binding restrictions on the use of the billions of dollars it sends to Gaza, the funds will be diverted by Hamas to building more terror tunnels, and recruit and train more shahids to continue the fight against Israel once again.

This is a story that will continue to repeat itself for decades until the West finally understands that Hamas does not want peace, and will continue to strike, be struck, then rebuild endlessly with other people’s money in order to follow their evil and fruitless dream of destroying Israel and establishing another radical Muslim State in its place.

It’s all about religion

Israel is the only Jewish state in the world, and it is strong and resilient, and inventive. And therein lies the heart of Hamas’ problem. Hamas is a military embodiment whose core beliefs are based on a radical, militant interpretation of Islam. This ongoing war is, therefore, not principally about land; it is about religion.  

For Hamas, the fact that Jews have taken over this tiny spot of land in the midst of the broad swath of the Muslim world is simply unacceptable. Mohammed said, Those who disbelieved from among the children of Israel were cursed” (Koran 5:78). “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides, or they should be imprisoned.” (Koran 5:33)   

Hamas’ war is a war against the Jews. And they will keep trying because they believe that Mohammed’s followers will prevail in the end.  

They are wrong. They will not “drive the Jews into the sea,” and they will not own the land from the river to the sea.” Their religious dementia will not be enough to make Israel a Muslim country. Israel will defeat Hamas again and again until – finally – the world is ready to accept Israel as it was intended to be in 1947 when the United Nations declared Israel a sovereign country, a nation among nations.

Ilana Freedman

Ilana Freedman is a veteran intelligence analyst with more than thirty years in the field. She was trained in Israel, where she lived and worked for sixteen years. After returning to the U.S., she served as CEO of Gerard Group International in Massachusetts, providing major corporations and government agencies with intelligence-led support for their homeland security programs. Her global network of specialists and field assets has provided her with an ongoing resource of critical, real-time intelligence and domain expertise. Today, Ilana is an independent consultant and author of hundreds of articles on terrorism and the geopolitical landscape. She has written four books on Islamic terrorism, and is currently working on a comprehensive book on China - past, present, and future.

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