Friday, 16 January 2009

BBC Exchange: Who Broke The 2008 6 Month Truce

Dear Complaints,

My complaint is about this paragraph on the Who Are Hamas Page

"Hamas security control made Gaza a more calm and orderly place than it had been for months. But Israel tightened its blockade on the Strip and - despite a multilateral ceasefire in June 2008 - rocket fire and Israeli raids continued to provide provocations for more violence by each side."
I watched a More4 news programmme where Mark Regev agreed that Hamas didn't fire ANY rockets before Israel fired on what they claimed to be Palestinians digging tunnels in order to kidnap soldiers. Mr Regev said that because a tunnel was being dug, Hamas broke the ceasefire!

Please will you ammend your article?

From: NewsOnline Complaints
Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 9:42 AM
Subject: RE: Complaint


Many thanks for your e-mail. We're happy that our article is a fair reflection of events. There was certainly some rocket fire during that period, but on a very small scale, and obviously not enough to provoke Israel into retaliatory action. There may be a semantic difference between that and what Mr Regev apparently told More 4, but we're not minded to change our article, certainly not on the basis of what someone was heard to say on a rival TV channel.

Best wishes,

News website

Dear Ian,

Thanks for your reply. If you will not change your article on the basis of what I heard on More4, why then don't you change it on the basis of what is wrote in the report by the Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center, (IICC), which by the way is routinely cited on the Israeli government websites and I notice recently on the bbc website.

note red highlights:

4.An analysis of the situation on the ground indicates two distinct periods: i) A period of relative quiet between June 19 and November 4 : As of June 19, there was a marked reduction in the extent of attacks on the western Negev population. The lull was sporadically violated by rocket and mortar shell fire, carried out by rogue terrorist organizations, in some instance in defiance of Hamas (especially by Fatah and Al-Qaeda supporters). Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire. The IDF refrained from undertaking counterterrorism activities in the Gaza Strip, taking only routine defensive security measures along the border fence. Between June 19 and November 4, 20 rockets (three of which fell inside the Gaza Strip) and 18 mortar shells (five of which fell inside the Gaza Strip) were fired at Israel .


14. As soon as the lull arrangement went into effect there was a marked decrease in the extent of rocket and mortar shell attacks against the western Negev population and the Ashqelon region. There was relative calm in Sderot and the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip, although the calm was disrupted by sporadic rocket and mortar shell fire and occasionally by light arms fire and attempts to place IEDs by rogue terrorist organizations (primarily networks of Fatah, the Popular Resistance Committees and other small groups, some of them affiliated with Al-Qaeda). Hamas, for its part, was careful to maintain the ceasefire. IDF forces refrained from undertaking counterterrorism activities in the Gaza Strip and only carried out defensive security activity around the border security fence to prevent attacks. That was the situation on the ground before November 4. During the first period 20 rockets were fired, three of which fell inside the Gaza Strip, and 18 mortar shells, five of which fell inside the Gaza Strip.

15. The sporadic rocket fire during this period was generally carried out in response to what the rogue organizations called “Israeli violations” of the arrangement. In certain instances there were attacks to protest the fact that the arrangement had not been extended to Judea and Samaria; that was noticeable from the beginning of the lull. For example, on June 24 three rockets were fired at Sderot, the first Palestinian violation of the arrangement, after a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative was killed in Nablus (in Samaria), despite the fact that Judea and Samaria were not included in the lull arrangement, and both terrorist attacks and counterterrorism activities were carried out there at that time.

16. Networks belonging to Fatah/Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades were the most prominent and central in violating the lull arrangement. Their motivation was the desire to show themselves as the standard bearers of the “resistance” (i.e., terrorism) and to send a message of defiance to Hamas, their rivals, even though Fatah in Judea and Samaria renounced the attacks.5 In certain instances the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or other organizations fired rockets. In most instances they did not publicly claim responsibility. Such attacks were motivated by deep internal Palestinian rivalries, especially between Fatah and Hamas, and not responses to “violations” on the part of Israel.

17. During the first period Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire and its operatives were not involved in rocket attacks. At the same time, the movement tried to enforce the terms of the arrangement on the other terrorist organizations and to prevent them from violating it. Hamas took a number of steps against networks which violated the arrangement, but in a limited fashion and contenting itself with short-term detentions and confiscating weapons. For example, a number of times Hamas’s security services detained Fatah/Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades operatives, including Abu Qusai, an Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades spokesman, who claimed responsibility for rocket fire (June 29). Detained operatives were released after a short interrogation and no real measures were taken against them. However, it was clear that throughout the first period Hamas sought to avoid direct confrontations with the rogue organizations (especially the PIJ) insofar as was possible, lest it be accused of collaborating with Israel and harming the “resistance.” Hamas therefore focused on using politics to convince the organizations to maintain the lull arrangement and on seeking support for it within Gazan public opinion (including issuing statements by its activists regarding the lull’s achievements).

19. The second period of the arrangement began with Hamas’s preparations to abduct an Israeli or Israelis through a tunnel dug under the border security fence. In our assessment, those who planned it had to take into consideration that such an attack would do great harm to the arrangement, but nevertheless Hamas was eager to have another Israeli hostage to use as a bargaining chip.6 Following information, the IDF went into action close to the border, prevented the attack and killed seven Hamas terrorist operatives. Hamas responded with a massive barrage of rocket and mortar shell fire, unprecedented since the lull arrangement had gone into effect.

From: NewsOnline Complaints
Sent: Friday, January 16, 2009 4:23 PM
Subject: RE: Complaint

Thanks for that information. Our view is that Hames did not explicitly maintain the ceasefire in that rockets were fired into Israel during the truce period. While some may well have come from other groups, some did come from Hamas-controlled territory, so could not feasibly have been fired by anyone else. However, the attacks were not enough to provoke Israel into direct retaliation and the ceasefire held. But as I said earlier, we are happy with our wording.

Best wishes,


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