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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The Inevitable Disintegration of the Hudna

Filed under: Al-Qaeda and Global Jihad, Hamas, Israeli Security, Radical Islam, Terrorism
Publication: Jerusalem Issue Briefs

Vol. 3, No. 5   August 23, 2003

  • Roadmap requirements have been categorically ignored both by the Palestinian Authority and the Quartet. This was due partly to the fact that the hudna, a temporary truce offered by the terrorist organizations, never fulfilled the terms of the roadmap’s cease-fire.

    • While the demand for “effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure” is explicitly clear, PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly insisted that he would not dismantle the terrorist organizations but would persuade them through a dialogue.

    • Despite a call for “confiscation of illegal weapons,” a vast network of some 50,000 illegal arms, 24 bomb manufacturing plants, and 20 weapons smuggling enterprises is being systematically ignored by the PA. Thus, rather than reducing the weaponry of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in accordance with the roadmap, their military capabilities grew.

    • The roadmap calls on Arab states to “cut off public and private funding and all other forms of support for groups supporting and engaging in violence and terror.” Yet Saudi Arabia funds approximately 60 percent of Hamas’s budget and the Saudi share of Hamas funding is growing.

  • The U.S. and its European allies compromised their own roadmap by working with the Palestinian hudna. Now with the breakdown in security they should be supporting the steps Israel must undertake to protect its citizens. Israel has every moral right to complete the construction of a separation fence along a route of its choosing in order to optimize the protection of its citizens.



The Hudna Did Not Stop the Violence


Despite the outpouring of wrath and shock, last week’s suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem, which killed 21 worshippers (including six children) returning from the Western Wall, should have come as no surprise. Looking back, it was inevitable, for it was only the latest in a series of Palestinian attacks initiated during the past several months. Indeed, no fewer than 240 Palestinian terrorist attacks have taken place since June 29, 2003 – the date the hudna was officially announced – an average of four attacks per day.1

With all the surrounding publicity, one might have thought that the hudna was one of the initial phases of the “performance-based roadmap to a two-state solution.”2 It is not. Indeed, the hudna, a temporary Islamic truce during which it is permissible to rebuild one’s strength against an adversary, contradicts both the letter and the spirit of the roadmap.

The first sentence of Phase I of the roadmap unequivocally stipulates that the Palestinians are to “immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence.” The hudna – agreed upon by some in the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad – is a far cry from fulfilling the demand for an unconditional cessation of violence: It is both circumscribed in time (three months) and contingent upon Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners. Furthermore, some Palestinian factions, such as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, rejected it outright.

The problem, however, is not purely one of semantics; the hudna simply did not stop the violence. Gross Palestinian non-compliance with, and indeed diametric opposition to, three vital roadmap requirements, coupled with the Quartet’s complete lack of any critical statements or effective action on security matters, have ensured the inevitability of continued Palestinian terror.

The roadmap imposes three pivotal requirements on the Palestinians, each of which have been categorically ignored both by the Palestinian Authority and the Quartet.




Requirement #1: Sustained PA Operations to Confront Terrorists and Dismantle Their Capabilities


The roadmap specifies that the “rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror, and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.”

While this demand is explicitly clear, the Palestinian Authority has taken no meaningful steps to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. In fact, PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has insisted that he would not dismantle the terrorist organizations. “Cracking down on Hamas, Jihad, and the Palestinian organizations is not an option at all,” he said.3 Muhammad Shehadeh, head of Islamic Jihad’s armed wing in Bethlehem and an expert bombmaker, confirmed, “We have an agreement and understandings [with the PA] that there would be no arrests of activists or raids on Islamic Jihad offices and institutions or confiscation of our money.”4 Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed al-Hindi said that no one in his terrorist organization has been jailed or asked to disarm.5 Atta Abu Mumeyli, a Fatah leader in the Jenin refugee camp, claimed he had never received orders from Arafat to “make a cease-fire with the Israelis,”6 while Zakariya al-Zubaidi, commander of the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, said he had received no orders from the Palestinian leadership to stop attacks against Israel.7

Israeli security officials have concluded that the PA has done virtually nothing to dismantle the terror infrastructure or prevent attacks. General Security Services Director Avi Dichter told a ministerial committee that the PA and Prime Minister Abbas are simply not fighting terror8 – an assessment shared by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon.9 Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze’evi Farkash directly implicated Yasser Arafat as being responsible for recent terror attacks.10 Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz especially reinforced this point, saying, “The PA has taken no action against [the terrorist organizations] or their infrastructures.”11

This failure was inevitable for another reason. It became impossible to consolidate all Palestinian security organizations under one minister, as the roadmap required, when the Quartet agreed to a hybrid, two-headed Palestinian Authority in which Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas shared power. Each controlled his own security services. There could be no effective response to terrorism when each leader was competing with the other. President Bush stated on June 24, 2002, that those tainted with terrorism should not be part of the Palestinian leadership – meaning Arafat. The Quartet compromised Bush’s original plan and kept Arafat in power, leading to the present crisis.



Requirement #2: Confiscation of Illegal Weapons


On August 10, 2003, IDF Chief of Staff Ya’alon revealed that a truck loaded with Kassam rockets was allowed to pass through a Palestinian roadblock in Gaza. Cars loaded with Islamic Jihad terrorists were also allowed through.12 Smuggling illegal weapons above ground, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Some four to thirteen tunnels in the Rafah area, which straddles the thin strip of Israeli-controlled land on the Israel-Egypt border in Gaza, are operating at any given time, part of an extensive underground smuggling network for illegal weapons.13 During the past year, IDF forces destroyed 25 such tunnels.14 Recent PA actions against the tunnels, undertaken before Western media cameras, have been largely for show; instead of destroying the tunnels with explosives, the Palestinians temporarily close one end with sand and rocks.15

A vast network of some 50,000 illegal arms, 24 bomb manufacturing plants, and 20 weapons smuggling enterprises is being systematically ignored by the PA,16 with the cease-fire allowing the terrorists time to regroup and plan new attacks. Islamic Jihad leader al-Hindi explained, “It is natural that we strengthen ourselves during the hudna.17 Furthermore, al-Hindi said his group reached an agreement with Abbas that the PA would not confiscate weapons from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. “We agreed that these weapons are a red line which the PA would not trespass,” he said.18

Meanwhile, Hamas has used the time to work toward the completion of 1,000 Kassam rockets,19 while seeking to increase their range. On August 24, an improved Kassam rocket nearly reached the Israeli city of Ashkelon (pop. 110,000).



Requirement #3: Arab States to End Funding of Terror Groups


The roadmap calls on Arab states to “cut off public and private funding and all other forms of support for groups supporting and engaging in violence and terror.” Yet funding and support from Arab states has significantly increased.

  • Saudi Arabia funds approximately 60 percent of Hamas’s budget – its share estimated to be $12-14 million per year.20 Notably, “the Saudi share of Hamas funding is growing, not declining,” according to Senate hearings on terrorist funding.21

  • Iran is said to send at least $100 million to Hizballah annually, as well as Fajr-5 rockets.22 Like Saudi Arabia, Iran’s terror funding seems to be inversely proportional to Israeli peace efforts. Recently, Iran increased its funding of Islamic Jihad by 75 percent.23

  • Syria also continues to support Palestinian terror. Hizballah, which has thousands of rockets aimed at northern Israel, routinely receives Katyusha rockets via Syria, and reportedly has received other heavy weapons directly from Syria’s own arsenal.24 Just two weeks ago, a 15-year-old Israeli youth in the northern town of Shlomi was killed by Hizballah anti-aircraft shrapnel. In addition, the offices of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine remain active in Syria, according to U.S. Secretary of State Collin Powell.25

  • Egypt’s compliance in smuggling weapons to the Palestinians is also a serious problem. When the IDF blows up one of the Rafah smuggling tunnels, smoke is often seen rising from the Egyptian side, even from Egyptian army posts, as IDF Chief of Staff Ya’alon has reported.26



The Lethal Cost of Palestinian Non-Compliance


The specific first stage requirements detailed in the roadmap have been ignored by the Palestinian Authority. Yet the Quartet, under whose auspices the roadmap is to be implemented, has been silent. Instead, Western media have focused on the release of Palestinian prisoners (an issue not even mentioned in the roadmap) and the removal of illegal outposts, in a perverse attempt to claim moral equivalency between terrorist murder and settlement activity. If the Sharon government removes 12 outposts instead of 20, the results are non-lethal, but if the Palestinians fail to comply with their obligation to dismantle terror groups, the result is the loss of innocent lives.



The Future of the Roadmap


The Oslo process failed in part because the international community chose to ignore the Palestinian leadership’s lack of compliance with its commitments.

  • Today, as in the past, the call for an end to Palestinian violence is unconditional and immediate. Without total compliance with this demand, the roadmap becomes a meaningless document whose fate will be similar to that of the Oslo Accords, the Tenet Plan, the Mitchell Plan, and a wide variety of other statements of good intent of the past ten years.

  • International organizations hoping to aid the peace process cannot execute diplomacy by committee, whereby each member systematically attempts to undercut the others, as is the case with the Quartet. Scotch-tape diplomacy, in which some members (such as the U.S.) are attempting to sideline Arafat while others (such as France) are sending their foreign ministers to meet with him, is a recipe for disaster. Even before last week’s suicide bombing in Jerusalem, the Quartet should have immediately and indefinitely halted the roadmap until an immediate and unconditional cessation of Palestinian violence had come to fruition. Today, the added value of the protectorate and aegis of the Quartet is dubious at best.

  • Given the breakdown of the roadmap, the U.S. and its European allies should back the steps Israel must undertake to protect its citizens. The illegal weaponry that has been acquired by the Palestinians during the hudna needs to be collected and destroyed. Production facilities of Kassam rockets must be dismantled. While Israel will seek to uproot the terrorist networks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it will need defensive measures to cope with ongoing threats. Today more than ever, Israel has every moral right to complete the construction of a separation fence along a route that it chooses for optimizing the protection of its citizens. After the sacrifices Israel made in trying to pursue the roadmap, the U.S. and its allies, at the very least, should not oppose the completion of Israel’s security fence.

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1. IDF Spokesperson, August 20, 2003.
2. U.S. Department of State, “A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” April 30, 2003;
3. Nadia Abou El-Magd, “Defiant Abbas Rules Out Crackdown on Militants,” Associated Press, July 24, 2003;
4. Khaled Abu Toameh, “Islamic Jihad: PA Won’t Harm Us,” Jerusalem Post, August 10, 2003;
5. Peter Hermann, “Middle East Braces for End of Cease-fire,” Baltimore Sun, August 9, 2003;,0,6174350.story?coll=bal-home-headlines
6. Matthew Gutman, “No ‘Hudna’ in Jenin,” Jerusalem Post, July 31, 2003;
7. Ibid.
8. Israel Radio, August 4, 2003, as reported by IMRA;
9. “Israel Restrained in Bomb Response,” CBS, August 11, 2003;
10. “Intelligence Chief: Arafat Funding Terror,” Jerusalem Post, August 17, 2003;
11. Caroline Glick, “Mofaz to ‘Post’: PA Must Halt Terror by End of September,” Jerusalem Post, August 7, 2003;
12. Israel Radio, August 11, 2003, as reported by Daily Alert;
13. Amos Harel, “IDF Hands Wolf Parameters for PA Security Progress,” Ha’aretz, August 24, 2003;
14. Matthew Gutman and Margot Dudkevitch, “Hamas Building 1,000 Kassam Rockets,” Jerusalem Post, July 21, 2003;
15. Israel Security Services, August 24, 2003.
16. Amos Harel, “IDF Hands Wolf Parameters.”
17. Ross Dunn, “Militants Re-arm Under Cover of Israeli Truce,” Scotland, August 10, 2003;
18. Khaled Abu Toameh, “PA Denies Confiscating Weapons,” Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2003;
19. Amos Harel, Ha’aretz, as reported by Daily Alert, July 14, 2003;
20. Arieh O’Sullivan, “Israeli Intelligence Officials Dismiss Abbas’s Denial of Saudi Aid to Terrorists,” Jerusalem Post, August 11, 2003;
21. Janine Zacharia, “Dore Gold: Saudis Provide Most of Hamas Funding,” Jerusalem Post, July 12, 2003;
22. Gal Luft, “Hizballahland,” Commentary, July-August 2003;
23. Matthew Levitt, “Combating Terrorist Financing: Where the War on Terror Intersects the Roadmap,” Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 3, No. 4, August 14, 2003;
24. Lenny Ben-David, “Iran, Syria, and Hizballah – Threatening Israel’s North,” Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 2, No. 3, July 2002;
25. T. Christian Miller, “Near Iraq, Syria Reportedly Still Quietly Backs Millitants,” Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2003;,1,7655117.story
26. Mark Lavie, “Israel: Peace Plan in Deep Freeze Until Palestinians Crack Down on Militants,” Associated Press, August 10, 2003;

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Eli Kazhdan is a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He served as foreign policy advisor to Minister Natan Sharansky.

David Keyes is currently assisting former Ambassador Dore Gold at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. A sophomore at UCLA, he is the media and information chair of Bruins for Israel.