The Islamic Jihad and several armed groups with ties to the ruling Fatah movement including the al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades said Saturday they wouldn't necessarily observe a truce with Israel in 2006.
The limited cease-fire, negotiated in March, expired Saturday, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian mediators are trying to win an extension. Hamas has largely stuck to the agreement, as part of what has been portrayed as Hamas' gradual transformation into a political party.
The smaller Islamic Jihad never laid down its arms and carried out a series of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel in recent months. Islamic Jihad claimed it was committed to the truce in 2005, but that the attacks were in retaliation for perceived Israeli truce violations.
In a statement Saturday, Islamic Jihad said: "We reaffirm that the official end of the truce agreed to in Cairo last March comes at midnight on Saturday." It was not clear whether the group would participate in talks on extending the cease-fire.
"The factions have been freed from the tadhiya agreement because Israel continued its actions in the territories and did not release security prisoners," said a spokesman for Islamic Jihad.
Hader Habib, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza, said that his organization is not committed to continuing the 'calm' because of Israel's "aggression," and said that this was a response to IDF offensives in the West Bank and Gaza.
At least two of several dozen armed groups affiliated with Fatah also noted that the cease-fire expired Saturday.
Ala Sanakra, a local leader of Fatah gunmen in the West Bank's Balata refugee camp, said a truce should not be extended unless Israeli troops withdraw from all of the West Bank.
In Gaza, a statement of the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades said Israeli strikes in Gaza "blew up any truce" and called on all groups to try to carry out suicide attacks against Israel.
Islamic Jihad: We're Back
Sunday, January 1, 2006 / 1 Tevet 5766
As of today, the "period of calm" to which Islamic Jihad agreed to several months ago is officially over. Israeli forces are on alert. Hamas is remaining quiet, for the meanwhile.
Known as a "tahadiye," it began in March 2005, at a meeting of terrorist leaders in Cairo. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the time that the agreement was an "important first step." Some said the agreement was downright dangerous for Israel, however. Hisham Abdel Rezak, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, explained at the time that as opposed to a "hudna," which remains in effect until one of the sides feels it can defeat the other, a tahadiye is even less binding, and is really only a "calming" of the situation that allows the sides to easily "get down from the ladder."
In fact, during the nearly nine months since the tahadiye was agreed upon, Palestinian terrorism and warfare claimed no fewer than 35 victims. These included 5 victims of Kassam rockets and mortar shells, 11 murdered in shooting and stabbing attacks, and 16 people killed in three suicide attacks.
A spokesman for Islamic Jihad announced last night that the tahadiye would not be renewed "because Israel has continued its operations in the territories and has not released security prisoners [terrorists - ed.]."
Other terrorist organizations, such as the Popular Resistance Committees, the PFLP, and most of the armed gangs of Fatah's Al Aqsa Brigades, joined the Islamic Jihad's declaration. Blatantly missing from this list is Hamas, which is running for office in the upcoming Palestinian Authority elections. The Israeli defense evaluation is that Hamas will refrain from attacking Israel at least until the PA elections, currently scheduled for late January.
IDF forces killed two Palestinian terrorists attempting to fire a Kassam rocket from northern Gaza last night. This was the first IDF success since it announced Operation Blue Skies, in which anyone seen walking around areas from which rockets are launched at Ashkelon and environs is fired upon. Operation Blue Skies began last Wednesday.
Earlier yesterday, terrorists fired a Kassam rocket towards the western Negev. It exploded in an open area on the northern edge of the city of Sderot, causing no injuries or damage.