Monday, March 17, 2008

Hamas: Swap Ceasefire for Security-Free Gaza, Judea, Samaria

Hana Levi Julian

Hamas terrorist organization has put out feelers to arrange a ceasefire with Israel in the wake of an intensified counterterrorism campaign by the IDF in Gaza two weeks ago.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza region, has said it will halt its rocket attacks on western Negev communities, but only on condition that the government orders the IDF to halt all counterterrorist operations in Judea and Samaria as well as Gaza.

Israel previously has totally rejected the proposal Hamas spokesman Iman Tara told the London-based Arabic language newspaper Asharq al-Alawsat that the proposed ceasefire also is conditioned on Israel's re-opening Gaza crossings, which Israel closed following the terror group’s takeover of the region.

The government has allowed humanitarian shipments to pass through the crossings. Tara also charged that the Olmert administration's refusal to compromise is delaying a deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped almost two years ago in a cross-border terrorist attack.

Hamas has periodically blamed its refusal to release Shalit on various actions by Israel. Numerous deals brokered by Egyptian security officials and allegedly “agreed to” by the terrorists since Shalit’s abduction in June 2006 were torpedoed at the last minute by the group.

Numerous attempts by International Red Cross representatives and other foreign officials to visit Shalit and ascertain his condition have failed. Although Hamas released a video of the 20-year-old soldier last year and prior to that, an audio recording, Shalit’s whereabouts and condition remain unknown.

Terror Bomb Factories Active in Judea and Samaria
PA Arab terrorists are also increasing their efforts to smuggle dangerous materials into Fatah-controlled Judea and Samaria, many of which can be used for manufacturing rockets and other weapons, according to IDF spokesmen.

IDF soldiers confiscated a truck carrying 12.5 tons of fertilizer at a Samaria checkpoint on Monday morning. The fertilizer in question is often used to prepare bombs. The truck was stopped following a joint operation involving the IDF, the Border Police, and the Civilian Administration.

Security forces have thwarted 14 attempts in the past several days to smuggle that substance and other dangerous materials as well as others in containers of merchandise hidden in five trucks.

Authorities have detected more that 1,600 attempts to transfer prohibited material, and police are investigating nine different incidents. The United States has insisted that Israel remove dozens of checkpoints in Judea and Samaria.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu contributed to this report.

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