Islamic Jihad: No Peace for Israelis

[AP/Washington Post] Steven Gutkin - Abu Hamza is constantly on the run from Israel. His hideout today is a barren room with a computer hooked up to the Internet, which the Islamic Jihad commander said is used to plan rocket attacks on southern Israel. He pledged to keep up the violence. "We must create a balance of terror with the enemy," he said. The rockets that Islamic Jihad fires into Israel almost daily serve as constant reminders that renewed talk of Mideast peace remains a distant dream in Gaza. Thousands of rockets fired over the past seven years have killed 12 Israelis, wounded dozens and disrupted life for thousands. Islamic Jihad, a virulently anti-Israel group backed by Iran and Syria, has killed dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings and has about 2,000 militants armed with automatic rifles, grenades and anti-tank weapons. It operates independently of the much larger Hamas, whose tolerance and sometimes encouragement of rocket attacks have increased Gaza's isolation. "Resistance must continue until we uproot the occupation from all the land of Palestine...from the sea to the river," said Abu Hamza, outlining Islamic Jihad's position that a future Palestinian state must replace Israel, not live alongside it. He said that Palestinian rocket fire forced Israel out of Gaza in 2005 and that he expected the same result in southern Israeli towns like Sderot and Ashkelon. Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at Gaza's Al Azhar University, said there is no doubt Syria and Iran are involved. "There are outsiders giving orders from outside the Gaza Strip, whether from Damascus or Tehran, for their own reasons," Abusada said. "They (Gaza militants) are doing this because they're getting paid for it."

2007-10-12 01:00:00

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