When a “Cease-Fire” is Not a Cease-Fire

David Bedein is a community organizer and journalist who runs the Israel Resource News Agency. He is the author of Where Has All the Flour Gone: Whims and Waste of UN Palestinian Refugee Policy and producer of the movie, "Palestinian Refugee Policy: From Despair to Hope."


hamasIn the current conflagration between Israel and Gaza, news agencies mistakenly report that a “cease fire” is being discussed with Hamas.

In the imagination of the media, such a “cease fire” might result in the kind of armistice that ended hostilities in World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the eleventh month on Nov. 11 1918, paving the way to the Versailles peace treaty and the genesis of the League of Nations.

However, the three Arabic nuanced terms being discussed with Hamas as a resolution to the current situation have nothing to do with a “cease fire”:

Those terms are Hudna, Tahadia and Hudaybiyyah. All three terms imply continued war, after a respite.

Hudna: a tactical pause intended only for rearmament, a temporary respite in the war between Islamic forces and non-Islamic forces.

The authoritative Islamic Encyclopedia (London, 1922) defines hudna as a “temporary treaty” which can be approved or abrogated by Islamic religious leaders, depending on whether or not it serves the interests of Islam; a hudna cannot last for more than 10 years.

Tahadia: a temporary halt in hostile activity which can be violated at any time.

Hudaybiyyah: An understanding that there will be no fighting for 10 years named for the “treaty of Hudaybiyyah” in 628 AD.

The Islamic Encyclopedia mentions the Hudaybia treaty as an “ultimate hudna.”

The late PLO leader Yasser Arafat often referred to “a hudna” in his speeches when he defined and described the nature of the Oslo Accords.

In the words of the Islamic Encyclopedia, “The Hudaybia treaty, concluded by the Prophet Mohammad with the unbelievers of Mecca in 628, provided a precedent for subsequent treaties which the Prophet’s successors made with non-Muslims.

Mohammad made a hudna with a tribe of Jews back then to give him time to grow his forces, then broke the treaty and wiped them out. Although this treaty was violated within three years from the time that it was concluded, most jurists concur that the maximum period of peace with the enemy should not exceed ten years, since it was originally agreed that the Hudaybia treaty should last ten years.”

Hudna, Tahadia and Hudaybiyyah – the only options on the table with Hamas – do not compare to the “mu’ahada” treaty of peace that Egypt signed with Israel in 1979, or the mu’ahada treaty of peace that Jordan signed with Israel in 1994.

How many people remember that three hudnas already occurred with Gaza?

How many people remember what occurred during those ‘hudnas”’?

Well, the people in Sderot and the Negev region of Israel remember.

Let us refresh our memories.

From November 26, 2006, until May 15, 2007, a Hudna between Hamas and Israel went on for almost six months. One cannot ignore the statement made by Hamas five days before the hudna went into effect: “Hamas’s military wing will stop the rocket fire when residents evacuate the city of Sderot.” (from November 21, 2006)

During that hudna, Gazans launched 315 missiles targeted at Sderot and the western Negev, according to an IDF spokesman.

And there was another hudna with Gaza which lasted until the end of Dedember . 2008, which witnessed 878 attacks fired from Gaza.

And there was a hudna from the end of Operation Cast Lead on January 18, 2009, to the first day of Operation Pillar of Defense on November 12, 2012.

During that period, approximately 2,000 rockets and missiles were fired from Gaza, sending one million Israelis running to shelters

And from the end of operation ‘Pillar of Defense’, through June 30th 2014, 300 aerial attacks were launched from Gaza towards southern Israel- during yet another tenuous Hudna.

What country would tolerate one missile fired into its territory — and agree to a Hudna, Tahadia and Hudaybiyyah that promises yet more aerial attacks?

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  • Ivan Ewan

    In the computer game series Civilization, you often find yourselves at war with another Civ. They often fight you with the flimsiest of excuses and as soon as they are winning, they will only offer you temporary peace in exchange for every last bit of wealth your Civ has.

    When they are losing, they will ask for peace treaties lasting for ten turns, always refusing to surrender anything in exchange. At the end of their ten turns they will be ready for a fresh assault.

    If you ignore peace treaties until you have utterly destroyed their ability to threaten you in the future, the other Civs brand you as a warmonger, and it can make it a bit difficult to negotiate with them on things. But it is always a better course of action for an industrial Civ to crush its warring opponents, not buy a temporary respite.

    An old-school computer game series trades in reality more than our real-life dunderheads in political office.

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  • Lanna

    Hamas is purposely placing rocket launchers in civilian areas. Rocket fire came from a launcher outside a UN school yesterday….this is what kind of shenangians Hamas pulls to stop Israel from firing on these lauchers targeting Israel’s cities….using civilians as their shield….Dispicable!

  • tagalog

    A couple of hours ago, Israel began its incursion into Gaza. Fox News is reporting on this in detail. Go Israel! Trash those Hamas rockets!

    No matter what, Israel will be depicted as Nazis, but that’s just to be expected. Annex Gaza!

  • Christopher Riddle

    “Cease Fire”(In Palestinian)means:”Time To Re-Stock Ammo”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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