No Terror Truce Discussed by Palestinian Groups

Various politicians lost no time in capitalizing on the genuine shock, condemnation and remorse in Israel and overseas over the death of children and civilians in Monday’s Israeli F16 warplane bombing of a residential district of Gaza City. More than one previous attempt to hit the Hamas’s top gun, Salah Shehada, was put off when he was found to be in civilian company. The Israeli army admitted that it erred in not calling off the F16 strike too, but stressed that Shehada, founder and commander of the Hamas’s suicidal Ezz-e-din al-Qassam, had knowingly cut short the lives of many Palestinian youths by sending them on suicidal homicide missions against Israeli children, as a matter of policy. Shortly before he was cut down, he began passing directives from Gaza to the West Bank, to initiate a fresh wave of suicide killings.
In the two days since Shehada’s passing, certain “Western circles” and pro-Oslo Israelis have gone to much trouble to demonstrate that his death aborted a near-accord among Palestinian terrorist groups for a ceasefire in terrorist attacks. One publication claimed that such an accord was but 20 minutes away. Another, that the bombing of Shehada’s home occurred two hours before publication of a unilateral, unconditional declaration formulated by Fatah’s Tanzim militia, with tacit endorsement from the Hamas and the Jihad Islami, to halt all terror attacks on Israeli civilians. Yasser Arafat quickly nodded his confirmation. One “Western” source referred to Saudi efforts to rein in the Hamas whose operations they fund generously.
On these scores, the Israel bombardment was widely presented as doubly reprehensible.
debkafile recalls that Salah Shehada was at large only thanks to his being among a group of Hamas terrorists freed from Israeli imprisonment in May 2000, at the insistence of today’s critics of his liquidation, as a gesture of goodwill to promote the peace efforts at the Clinton-Barak-Arafat summit in Camp David that summer. The summit failed dismally, succeeded two months later in September by Arafat’s proclamation of his violent confrontation with Israel. Shehada played a starring role in the Palestinian terror campaign launched then.
As for Saudi Arabia’s reported “peace” initiative, its rulers if anything stepped up aid to their proteges in the Hamas, including Shehada.
debkafile‘s Palestinian sources, setting the record straight, firmly assert that, far from the ceasefire talks said to be under discussion, the only negotiations current between the Fatah and the Hamas pertained to a truce in the inter-factional warfare between them. There were two issues on the agenda of their discussions:
1. A truce – not in the terrorist campaign against Israel – but in the embarrassing war of leaflets current between Arafat’s Fatah and the Hamas. This feud has not been exposed to the general public but is no less fiery for that. For the first time in many years, Hamas in its publicly circulated leaflets ventured to launch personal attacks against “Abu Amar”, namely Arafat, drawing a tit for tat response.
Hamas escalated its language first. A story run last week in a Jordanian Hamas-allied publication, and picked up later by the media, accused Arafat of transferring five million dollars of Palestinian funds to his wife Suha in Paris. The paper hinted at immoral goings by the leader’s spouse.
Honor-bound to respond, the Fatah in Ramallah fought back with a leaflet accusing the Hamas of insolence towards the Chairman and sullying the Palestinian first lady’s reputation. The Fatah leaflet contemptuously referred to the Hamas spiritual leader, Yassin, as the ” stammering sheikh” and called his top lieutenant, the late Salah Shehada, the “fleeing coward” (from Israeli troops).
This was shortly before he was killed.
2. Under the pressure of Israeli military operations in the West Bank from April, the Intifada Committees set up to coordinate terrorist operations among the various Palestinian groups have fallen apart. Arafat is anxious to re-assemble this essential backbone of his combined terror campaign.
Our sources report that certain European figures dabbling in Middle East politics, hearing of the negotiations afoot in the Palestinian camp, tried to persuade Arafat’s henchmen to slip the suicide terror issue onto the agenda. This gesture, they indicated, would aid their efforts to rehabilitate Arafat and keep the Palestinian Authority supplied with aid funds. To please the Europeans, Fatah officials dutifully raised the suicide issue at one of the Fatah-Hamas meetings, but did not pursue it further. Since the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation talks have been suspended anyway, nothing further ensued on this or any other issue.

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