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Hamas threatens retaliation to IDF Nablus raid (JERUSALEM POST) By MATTHEW GUTMAN 08/09/03) Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1060407900460
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Hamas and Islamic Jihad say they remain committed to the hudna cease- fire but stated Saturday that Israel´s raids into the West Bank over the weekend, in which two Hamas militants were killed another four arrested , require a "military reaction," and possibly a renewed cycle of violence.
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The raid and the ominous threats of revenge follow Israeli charges that Palestinian terrorist groups are exploiting the hudna to rearm and gather their strength for the next round of violence.
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"There will be a military reaction," stated Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantici in a telephone interview. "The military wing, Izzidin Al Qassam, declared this [on Friday]. I don´t know what form or when the military reaction will come," he added.
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"But we are still committed to the truce. From the start we said there will be a reaction for the terrorist actions of Israel. The reaction [revenge attack] will occur but the hudna will continue," he said cryptically.
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Hamas´s issued its first foreboding message on Friday shortly after the IDF sliced into the Askar refugee camp. The group´s military wing, Izzidin Al Qassa, issued a leaflet calling on its members to "retaliate," to the "crime in Nablus."
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"We accepted the hudna on the condition that Israel must stop its assassinations against militants," said Hamas´ Ismail Abu Shanab on Al Jazeera.
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Hamas and Islamic Jihad consider Israel beholden to the unilaterally declared truce, one which Israel claims it never recognized. An Israeli security source railed at Hamas´ threats of a revenge attacks: "Don´t forget, we still maintain security control in Nablus. And we told the PA countless times that if they don´t deal with terror we will."
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"It´s not like we pulled people out of the street and shot them. We stopped a huge terror attack," he said. The building in which the terrorists hid housed several explosive laboratories brimming with "many hundreds of kilograms of explosives," said the source. IDF fire into the building unleashed a series of explosions.
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"If they use this [the Nablus operation] to blow up the hudna by launching terror attacks, we will take it very seriously," he noted, intimating that the IDF might launch a large-scale operation to destroy the remnants of Palestinian terrorist cells in the West Bank, and possibly charge into Gaza.
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Yet Palestinian Cabinet minister Yasser Abed on Saturday accused Israel of violating the hudna and called on the "American administration and the international community for immediate intervention to put an end to this policy."
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Rabbo added that contrary to the declations of the group over the weekened Hamas has promised that "it will not respond to the Israeli attacks."
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Israel has often reiterated that should the Palestinian Authority not eliminate the terrorist groups, chiefly Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the IDF will. "If [at the end of the hudna] we see increased armament and strengthening of the terrorist organizations, we will get to a point where we will have to tell the PA, "Either you´re going to take care of this or we are going to take care of this," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Jerusalem Post.
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Rantici said Hamas is aware that a revenge terrorist attack against Israel which could well include suicide bombings might unleash a cycle of Palestinian attack and Israeli counter-attack, sending the hunda into the dustbin of Middle East peace initiatives.
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However he added that "these types of violations [of the hudna] cannot be tolerated," indicating that Hamas seems to have no political choice but to reactivate its relatively quiet terror cells. During the 40 day hudna, Hamas counted over 120 violations of the hudna. Israel numbers Palestinian violations in the hundreds.
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Other Palestinian leaders viewed the Nablus operation more gravely. The "countdown for the end of the hudna" has begun, Islamic Jihad spokesman Muhammed Al-Hindi told Abu Dhabi TV on Friday, hinting that much-touted cease-fire might not reach its September 29 expiration date.
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"The Israeli violations jeopardize the hudna," he continued, "we hold Israel responsible for the deterioration and this time the Palestinian people may embark on a "prisoners´ intifada not an Al Aqsa intifada."
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The Islamic groups have harnessed the issue of the some 6000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons to gain on the PA in public opinion. Whereas a few months ago, the prisoner issue was relegated to minor importance, it now tops the list of grievances of Palestinian leaders from Al Hindi to Rantici.
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Al Hindi added, that contrary to the Israeli security establishment´s frequent assurances that the terrorist infrastructure is all but defeated, the Palestinian terrorist groups "do not need to be rehabilitated or refreshed. We are ready to act swiftly and restart our resistance." (© 1995-2003, The Jerusalem Post 08/09/03)
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