Commentary Magazine


Truce and Dare

Last week Hamas announced that it considered the “truce” it had with Israel was over. And in doing so, they reminded the world that they have their own language, one that has very little to do with how the rest of the world sees things.

To most people, a “truce” is when two (or more) fighting parties agree to stop fighting and seek a way to permanently end the conflict. With Hamas, though, a “truce” is a little different: to them, it means “we’ll slow down our attacks on you, and you don’t hit back at all.” All throughout the so-called “truce,” rockets rained down on Israel on an almost-daily basis from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. And the world let Hamas get away with this perversion of language.

And that’s not all.

To most people, when a “truce” is declared to be over, it means one of two things: either a lasting peace has been reached, or fighting has resumed. But what does it mean that Hamas has declared the truce over? Nobody knows. Because Hamas won’t tell us what they mean. It might mean a new push for a new agreement, or it might mean another all-out war.

Here’s how it should have played out: Hamas declares that the truce is over. Israel politely asks “are you sure you want to declare the truce over?” And when Hamas issues the inevitable reaffirmation of their dedication to the destruction of Israel, as enshrined in their charter, Israel shrugs and softly says “OK, if that’s how it has to be.” And then levels a dozen Hamas buildings at the same time.

Hamas is many things. It is an avowed terrorist organization, dedicated to the destruction of Israel. And it is also the duly-elected, legal government of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip. When it declares the end of a truce, then that is the same as a declaration of war. And when someone declares war on you,  it’s considered rude to not recognize that.

Hamas wants to play with the big boys, to be a sovereign state with all the privileges thereof. They need a reminder that those privileges come with obligations and responsibilities — and the words and deeds of such bodies have tremendous consequences.

They keep talking of war. It’s long past due for Israel to call their bluff.

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