“Cut Off the Heads of Hamas’s Leaders”

A couple of days ago, Scott passed on reader Dan Diker’s comments on an article in Israel’s Maariv daily newspaper, which recorded the fact that Arab governments are urging Israel to take a hard line against Hamas. Egypt, in particular, is determined not to accept an “Islamic emirate” in Gaza, and therefore wants Israel to kill Hamas’s leaders in Gaza. It is ironic that, just when the incoming Obama administration may be pondering friendly overtures toward Hamas, Arab governments are urging the opposite.

Scott wasn’t able to find an English-language version of the Maariv article, but reader Mike Nahum translated it for us. Here it is:

Message from Arab States: Eliminate the Heads of Hamas
Ben Kaspit & Amir Bouchbout
18/12/2008 7:27

A moment before the end of the tahdiyya [lit. “calming”] Israel received a green light from senior Arab officials for the elimination of senior Hamas figures: “If they won’t extend the tahdiyya – eliminate them.”

Israel recently received messages from senior figures in Arab states encouraging the resumption of targeted eliminations in Gaza. In one of the messages it was even said “Take off their heads”, referring to the Hamas leadership in Gaza. The Arab officials referred to the possibility that Hamas will implement its threat[s], won’t lengthen the tahdiyya and will enable the resumption of firing Qassam rocks into the Western Negev.

And who are the seniormost targets for elimination? Hamas’s organization in Gaza is divided into a Military leadership and Political leadership. Among the leaders of the first type, who are likely to become targets for elimination, are three people: Ahmad Ja’bari, head of Hamas’s military wing in Gaza; Ibrahim Ghandour, a senior official in the military wing; and Muhammad Daf, another senior official in the military wing, who has already been injured in a number of IDF removal operations.

Among the characters who compose Hamas’s political leadership are Isma’il Haniyyah, Prime Minister of the Palestinian government, Sa’id Siyam, Minister of the Interior in Haniyyah’s government, and Mahmoud Az-Zahar, one of the organization’s leaders.

An additional individual likely to become another IDF target for elimination is Dr. Jamaal al-Houdari, a member of the Palestinian parliament in Gaza. Houdari claims that he is a humanitarian unaffiliated with Hamas, yet [when discussing him] one is dealing with a Haniyyah confidant involved in a great deal of anti-Israeli propaganda.

Among other things he’s connected to Gaza’s blackout campaign and sea borne [blockade running] transports from Cyprus. It is further claimed concerning [al-Houdari] that he has substantial involvement in the field of terror.

Not Eliminating Senior Officials

To these names one must add the commanders of the regional brigades that travel under the authority of Ja’bari, as they too are targets for elimination. Despite this, the [Israeli] Security Apparatus’s assessment is that if Israel will return to [the policy of] targeted eliminations, it will begin from the bottom rank of rocket launchers and manufacturers, and only afterwards will it return to eliminating senior officials.

One way or another the Tahdiyya agreement is supposed to expire, and already yesterday Hamas sent a message to Israel concerning the expected [future]: 24 Qassams were fired on the settlements of the Western Negev, causing a great deal of anxiety among the residents. A barrage of Qassams also aroused sharp criticism towards the [Israeli] political leadership’s policy of restraint thus far.

Officers in the Gaza Division (Ugdat ‘Aza) said on the subject that “in the month of November of this year, in the framework of the Tahdiyya agreement, Hamas has launched more rockets than in all of last year, when we were not under this agreement.” Those officers were fiercely critical of the Security Apparatus’s policy concerning the launching of rockets from the Gaza strip.

At the moment, despite this, they refrained from drawing direct criticism on the policy of the Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak. Thus, for example, a senior officer in the Gaza Division said yesterday in a private conversation: “What’s happening today in the Gaza strip is incomprehensible. We must respond.”

“Frustration on the Ground Following Indecision”

According to him “Since the Tahdiyya was broken, Tzahal hasn’t reacted in the depth of the Palestinian territory, save only for defensive attacks against [rocket] launchers. We’ve arrived at an unprecedented position in which we identify the location of the launchings from the very [Palestinian] houses and don’t do anything in response. The tanks don’t move. No one takes any decisions.”

The senior figure added, furthermore that “What dictates the order of the day is the alarm of [incoming] mortars, shouting to us to enter protected shelters. Our deterrence ability is being eroded and sometimes it’s difficult to explain the complicated reality of it to the soldiers.”

An additional senior officer in the division said last night the following: “We are rotting in buildings. Standing around and take the hits. I personally feel the frustration in every level from the fact that nobody takes a position. This is the [official] instruction. To sit and get hit [by rockets] and be ready to prevent penetration [of the separation wall, by Palestinian terrorists] on foot or by means of a tunnel.

In his words, “to whom does it seem logical that [in exchange] for 24 rocket attacks into Israel, the IDF will respond with a strike on the launcher? It reminds the officers of 1999-2000, when we sat in the defense posts of Gush Katif and were [primarily] occupied in defending ourselves.”

One of the officers even told his subordinates yesterday that this week a reporter from a foreign agency who had worked this week in the Gaza Strip and said to him: “They’re spitting on you in there, and you don’t answer. You’ve lost even minimal respect. Why don’t you respond to Hamas’s bombings?” That officer added and explained: “I didn’t answer, and it seems to me that he said it in order to provoke me, but there is no small truth in his words.”

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