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The Islamic movement

01 July 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

The Islamic movement has suddenly found itself on the defensive and is willing to implement a “hunda” or Islamic cease-fire in its struggle with Israel. True the hudna is designed to regain one’s strength for continued struggle until victory but a year ago no one would have thought militant, radical Islam would even consider the idea.  So what happened?

-          Israeli forces, beginning with the “Defensive Wall” operation in March 2002, through the “Determined Way” follow up and to the present have exerted excruciatingly painful pressure on the Islamic terrorists through targeted removals of the leadership cadre and massive arrests.  Intelligence is pouring in and Islamic activists do not know where to find the “moles” in their midst.

-          Raad Salah leader of the northern branch of the Islamic movement in Israel was arrested for laundering charity funds and passing on monies to the Hamas.  He and four other major functionaries deny the charges but it appears the government has a decent case.  Last year Salah brashly organized a rally of 60,000 followers who called for the end of the State of Israel.  Many condemned the official impotence believing his behavior was completely out of control.

-          The Islamic Front lost its court case to build a massive mosque alongside the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, an open provocation against Christianity and the rule of law in the State of Israel.  Despite court rulings they built illegally and just this morning bulldozers began tearing down the foundations laid in violation of the law.  So far there are no riots and little demonstrating.

-          Not long ago non-Moslem visitors began visiting the Temple Mount area again in Jerusalem.  To Moslems this is known as the El – Aksa Mosque domain and has been closed to all “non-believers” since the end of September 2000 when the Waqf authorities shut the gates.  Non-Moslems have not yet gone into the mosques on the Temple Mt. but are allowed to visit and have police escorts.  As a matter of Israeli government policy, no holy sites are off limits to anyone.  Freedom of religion and visitation will be upheld as opposed to Islamic behavior best expressed by the fact that non-Moslems are forbidden from visiting the Saudi holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

-          In the January 2003 elections the Arab/Moslem lists got eight seats as opposed to ten received in 1999.  Their electorate is sending a message of moderation.

Some attribute this behavior to a new maturity of understanding for co-existence between Jews and Arabs.  The explanation is far too “politically correct.”

Rather a combination of military and police pressure against terror and extremism on the one hand and enormous economic loss on the other has forced a hudna by the Palestinians and a reconsideration of conflict oriented politics and actions by Israeli Arabs.  Unfortunately it is that simple, no more and no less.