David Bedein

‘Ceasefire’ now in effect is anything but a ceasefire.

Concerning the current situation in Gaza, all media outlets report s that a “ceasefire” is now in effect.

That should be cause for optimism.

Indeed, a real “ceasefire” might result in the kind of armistice that ended hostilities in World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, paving the way to the Versailles peace treaty and the genesis of the League of Nations.

However, the three Arabic nuanced terms discussed with Hamas  have nothing  to do with a “ceasefire”:

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

  • Hudna — a tactical pause intended only for rearmament, and 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.
  • Hudaybia — an understanding that there will be no fighting for 10 years, named for the “Treaty of Hudaybia” in 628 AD.

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

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 Hudaybia — 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 several hudnas already occurred with regime in Gaza?

How many people remember what occurred during those “hudnas”?

Well, the people in Sderot and the Negev region of Israel remember; so let us refresh our memories as well:

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 (on November 21, 2006): “Hamas’s military wing will stop the rocket fire when residents evacuate the city of Sderot.”  During that hudna, Gazans launched 315 missiles targeted at Sderot and the western Negev, according to an IDF spokesman.

There was another hudna with Gaza which lasted until the end of December 2008, which witnessed 878 attacks fired from Gaza.

There was yet another 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 still again, from the end of operation ‘Pillar of Defense’, through June 30th of 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 or Hudaybia that promises yet more aerial attacks?

And yet, we have arrived at another hudna.

The time has come for  Middle East pundits to warn that a Hudna is anything but a cease-fire.


David Bedein, Director


About the Author
David Bedein, who grew up in Philadelphia and moved to Israel in 1970 at the age of 20, is an MSW community organizer by profession and an expereinced investigative journalist. In 1987 he established the Israel Resource News Agency, with offices at the Beit Agron Int’l Press Center in Jerusalem, where he also serves as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research. In 1991, Bedein was the special CNN middle east radio correspondent. Since 2001, Bedein has contributed features to the newspaper Makor Rishon. In 2006, Bedein became the foreign correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. He is the author of " The Genesis of the Palestinian Authority" and "ROADBLOCK TO PEACE- How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA policies reconsidered"and the director and producer of the numerous short films about UNRWA policy which can be located at:
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