It like that old Expression, with friends like this we don’t need enemies. Hamas leaders have offered to stop firing Kassams at Israel if they expand the present cease-fire to include the west bank. To someone who has spend the last year in a hole this might seem like a reasonable Idea (or someone who works for the British Press-they have their heads in a hole). But one look at the Quassam calender on Elder of Zion’s blog kind of puts the Kibosh on that proposal. So far in the month of May there have been 140 rockets fired from Gaza. One Hundred forty rockets, this is during a cease-fire. No rockets have been fired from the west bank–there is no cease fire in the west bank. Its must have to do with some crazy Arabic semantics, something like the witches in the first scene of Macbeth, “Fair is Foul, Foul is fair.” The Arabic version is Peace is War, War is Peace. There you go, when Hamas calls for a cease-fire in the west back it is a Gaza type cease fire. They get to fire rockets at Israel and Israel ceases firing.
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents
Interior Minister Roni Bar-On called Hamas’ offer for a cease-fire on Tuesday “a manipulation.”
The Kadima minister maintained that Israel “will not deal with Hamas. Anything we suffer, they will suffer ten times more. If they disturb the peace in Sderot, they will have no peace themselves.”
A Hamas spokesman had said Monday that if Israel agrees to a temporary cease-fire in the West Bank, the Palestinian unity government will be able to get all the Palestinian factions to heed a general cease-fire, including in the Gaza Strip.
The announcement followed a bloody day in Sderot that claimed the life of the first Israeli to be killed by a Qassam rocket since the escalation in rocket attacks from Gaza began a week ago.
There was no let-up in the Qassam fire, however. A rocket struck an open area in the western Negev on Tuesday morning, Israel Radio reported. There were no injuries or damage caused.
In response to Monday’s attacks, which saw more than a dozen Qassams hit Sderot, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service said that they would step up their efforts to target the leaders of Palestinian terror organizations.
These leaders “are in our sights,” a security source told Haaretz on Monday.
Overnight Monday, the Israel Air Force targeted two buildings in Gaza, which it said were being used by militants.
The woman, 32-year-old Shirel Friedman, was killed when a rocket hit a vehicle near a bakery at a Sderot mall at approximately 8 P.M. She was struck by shrapnel and succumbed to her injuries as she was being rushed to the hospital.
Two other Sderot residents were wounded in the Qassam attacks, one moderately and the other lightly. Both were evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.
The attacks led hundreds of youths to demonstrate in the streets of Sderot, burning tires and shouting slogans against Mayor Eli Moyal and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. When rumors spread that the prime minister was making his way to the town, a mob headed for the municipality, throwing stones and destroying flower pots.
Police confiscated crates of tomatoes from the protesters, who planned to throw them at the prime minister and his entourage.
The protesters also shouted slogans in favor of tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak, who volunteered funds to assist and evacuate Sderot residents both during this crisis and last summer.
In view of the situation, Sderot schools will be closed again on Tuesday. However, the matriculation exam in English was administered Monday, and 85 percent of the pupils scheduled to take the test arrived.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Yusuf, a political adviser to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and a member of Hamas, announced Monday that there is a possibility of a general cease-fire that all the Palestinian factions would accept, if Israel would agree a tahdiyeh, or “lull,” in the West Bank as well.
A tahdiyeh had been in place in the Gaza Strip, but while Hamas largely adhered to it for about six months, other, smaller organizations did not, and Hamas made no move to enforce it. Israel therefore refused to extend it to the West Bank, arguing that only the IDF would or could curtail extremist Palestinian groups operating there.
In a conversation with Haaretz, Yusuf said that “Israel’s agreement to extend the tahdiyeh to the West Bank will enable the government headed by Haniyeh to convince the groups to cease firing Qassam rockets. We have the tools to enable us to do this.”
Urging Israel to offer a political solution to the recent escalation, he added: “We are interested in a general cease-fire, and the question is whether Israel is also interested in this,” Yusuf said.
The Hamas official called on Israel to negotiate a solution to the crisis with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Seconding this call, Palestinian Minister of Information Mustafa Barghouti said that expanding the cease-fire to the West Bank is necessary in order to restore calm to the Gaza Strip.
Though the view in Israel is that Hamas escalated the rocket attacks because of its internal battles with the rival Fatah organization in Gaza, Hamas claims that it is Israel that caused the escalation, due to the domestic political difficulties of Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz.