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Rantisi says ´hudna´ will prove why uprising must go on (JERUSALEM POST) By MATTHEW GUTMAN 07/17/03) Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1058329609325
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The inciting slogans and depictions of Israeli villages aflame have been whitewashed from the walls lining Gaza City streets. Yet a year after the IDF assassination of Hamas military chief Salah Shehadeh torpedoed one possible hudna, claimed Palestinians, the end of the current one seems only a bomb blast away.
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In one of the first interviews in his own home since his close encounter with an IAF missile last month, Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi was as uncompromisingly militant as ever not the least bit cowed by his narrow escape.
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According to Rantisi, the hudna was engineered "so that Palestinians should understand the real situation that a hudna will not be of any benefit to them." The hudna, and the violent awakening from a few weeks or months of quiet, is to reaffirm "Palestinians´ belief in the intifada as the only option for them," he said.
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While Hamas vowed that any Israeli assassinations or incursion would trigger a violent response, Rantisi said that the group does not intend to hinge the three-month hudna on the release of prisoners involved in attacks against Israel a point upon which Israel refuses to budge.
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Yet this does not bode well for the fledgling road map. The Islamic Jihad, Hamas and apparently the Palestinian Authority security apparatus recognized from the start that the hudna and the road map rested on an impossible precondition: that the PA work to disarm terrorist groups. The PA "never thought of disarming any Palestinian organizations," said Rantisi, intimating that PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas had suggested that temporary quiet would be rewarded with their continued survival.
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Nafez Azzam, an Islamic Jihad leader, and one of the group´s founders, took it a step farther. He said Abbas promised the terror groups that "they will not collect our weapons." The confiscation of Palestinians´ weapons, and the wholly inconceivable arrest of militants, he added, "was totally rejected by all elements."
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When asked whether Hamas intends to use the "breather" to revamp its arsenal, a jovial Rantisi, who showed no signs of injury from the missile attack save for a compression sock on his leg, joked, "Oh sure, we are preparing an atomic bomb."
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One Islamic Jihad official, who spoke on background, claimed that the Islamic Jihad had no desire to enter the hudna, but "the time of the hudna was like a strong storm coming from the US and other arenas. We knew we´d better steer clear of the storm, then wait for the sunshine the resistance."
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Almost offhandedly he added that much of the pressure to accept the PA-brokered hudna came from Islamic Jihad patrons Iran and Syria, both of which feared American reprisals against them. Nevertheless, he added that the Islamic Jihad is "developing its capabilities," both in the West Bank and Gaza.
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The PA National Security Service (NSS), the apparatus ostensibly tasked with disarming Hamas and Islamic Jihad, is well aware of its handicap. "It is impossible to disarm Hamas," NSS Brig.-Gen. Sa´eb Ajez candidly told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday. "We can understand that they don´t want a solution but our chronic weakness is the question of how to disarm or arrest them, especially in the past two years."
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Yet there are some positive developments, noted Ajez, who mischievously displayed a doctored picture of Abbas and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat joined at the head like the famous Iranian Siamese twins and sharing the same keffiyeh. Palestinian motorists traveling on the Tancher road, the main north- south axis of the West Bank, are no longer detained for hours at checkpoints. Some, however, are waylaid at a military crossing. More farmers can now tend to their fields, though they still fear being mistaken for militants, he said.
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The most startling development is a phenomenon taking hold of the towns adjacent to the Gaza border with Israel. In Rafah last week, said Ajez proudly, local residents pummeled members of the Public Resistance Committee terrorist group as they attempted to rig a mortar.
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Increasingly the leaders of Palestinian terrorist organizations, which have by and large abided by the cease-fire, espouse a world view dubbed the "phases plan" by which the violence would cease once Israel removes all settlements and provides the Palestinians with a state within the pre-1967 borders. The struggle for the other "78% of historical Palestine," would be deferred to future generations, with "no permanent solutions" prior.
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The struggle cannot end, ranted Hamas´s No. 2 man Rantisi "until each of the five million Palestinian refugees are resettled in their own homes in Palestine. We are not willing to give up one centimeter of our land."
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Islamic Jihad spokesman Muhammad al-Hindi openly admitted that the fabric of Palestinian society has been ripped nearly to shreds by "the war," yet claimed victory. "All Palestinians know that Israel depends on immigration of Jews and the settlements," and in the past three years, "we have seen a reduction in immigration."
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Hindi, who often wears a hound dog expression, said that his group, responsible for a suicide attack at Kfar Yavetz last week which left a grandmother dead, "targets particularly Israeli soldiers, letting the civilians avoid the pains of war."
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His sensitivity to his own brethren is not nearly as keen as his apparent compassion for Israeli civilians. "Palestinians suffer for our country. But we adapted to the situation and know that more suffering brings more resistance," he said. Yet not everyone in Gaza so eagerly awaits the resumption of attacks against Israel. At the PLO Flag Shop, proprietor Tariq Abu Dayyah warmly embraced the sliver of hope supplied by the hudna. "We are selling a few more items, but mostly to journalists. We very much hope that the border and airports will open and tourists will come again," said Abu Dayyah, who was wary of "political" questions.
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He boasted that he recently sold 300 pins of intertwined Israeli and Palestinian flags to Peace Now. Otherwise he hides the relics of the Oslo era behind a basket full of trinkets, explaining "they are not good for business." (© 1995-2003, The Jerusalem Post 07/17/03)
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