August 10, 2003
THE head of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza strip has admitted the militant group is
using an ongoing truce with the Israeli military to re-arm, heightening fears of
an explosion of bloodshed when the ceasefire comes to an end next month.
In an exclusive interview with Scotland on Sunday, Mohammed al-Hindi warned
that militant Palestinian groups are preparing for confrontations in the wake of
Israeli military operations that could even lead to the collapse of the fragile
truce ahead of next month’s deadline.
Al-Hindi said: “It is natural that we strengthen ourselves during hudna
The Islamic Jihad leader was responding to Israeli accusations that his group,
which has carried out numerous suicide bombings and other attacks, is using
the lull in hostilities to gather weapons and re-build its armed wing.
And he said that other groups, including Palestinian President Yasser
Arafat ’s Fatah faction and Hamas, should follow Islamic Jihad’s example.
“It is natural that the Palestinians, Fatah, the Islamic Jihad, Hamas, be
ready to defend their people in the coming stages,” he added.
Asked what happens next, al-Hindi predicted more bloodshed if Israel fails to
make additional concessions to the Palestinians.
He said: “We are not blood lovers, we are freedom lovers, but when our
people are being killed, we have to defend ourselves.
“As long as Israel does not recognise the rights of the Palestinian people,
there will be more violence and more violence and Israel will be the one to be
blamed and to take responsibility.”
Al-Hindi said that since the Palestinian groups had declared a truce, more than
12 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli soldiers, some 350 Palestinians had
been arrested, and areas of the West Bank had been “confiscated” for the
building of Israel’s security fence. As a result it was against the interests of
Palestinian people to talk about extending the truce.
His warning came as more signs emerged of an upsurge in violence after period
of relative calm.
On Friday, the Israeli army killed a Hamas activist during an operation in
a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus. An Israeli soldier
was also killed during the raid.
Following the killings, a Hamas spokesman warned that his organisation
was no longer obliged to adhere to the ceasefire.
The threats emerged as the Israeli Defence Minister, Shaul Mofaz, issued his
He told the Jerusalem Post newspaper that the Palestinian Authority
must take action against groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas before the
end of September, when the ceasefire or hudna is due to expire.
If not, he said, then Israel would be forced to reassess its relations with the
He said: “We will have to tell the Palestinian Authority: ‘Either you are
going to take care of this or we are going to take care of this.'”