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Hudna (هدنة) is an Arabic term meaning a temporary "truce" or "armistice" as well as "calm" or "quiet", coming from a verbal root meaning "calm". It is sometimes mis-translated as "cease-fire". In the Lisan al-Arab (Ibn al-Manzur's definitive dictionary of classical Arabic, dating to the 14th century) it is defined as follows:
- "hadana: he grew quiet. hadina: he quieted (transitive or intransitive). haadana: he made peace with. The noun from each of these is hudna."
Hudna in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
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the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
In English, the term is most frequently used in reference to a cease-fire agreement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly one that would involve organizations such as Hamas. The concept of hudna was introduced to the conflict by the Israeli businessman Eyal Erlich in 2001, after seeing a hudna being declared in order to calm a feud in Jordan (cf. Haaretz, January 2, 2002); he and some others proposed, unsuccessfully, that Israel should suggest a mutual hudna as a prelude to a more lasting peace.
Despite the Israeli government's rejection of the idea, in summer 2003—following pressure from Abu Mazen and Egypt—Hamas and Islamic Jihad unilaterally declared a 45-day ceasefire, or hudna. Its proponents commonly argued that such a cease-fire would allow hostility to die down and make a full reconciliation possible; its opponents commonly argued that it would be a mere tactical maneuver enabling Palestinian groups to re-group and muster their strength in preparation for further attacks on Israelis, or Israel to continue expanding settlements, blockading Palestinian towns, and arresting members of such groups. The hudna started on 29 June 2003.
In an IDF operation to arrest Hamas militants, a gunfight broke out in which an Israeli soldier and two alleged Hamas militants were killed. Hamas responded with a suicide bombing on August 12, killing one Israeli civilian. Fatah claimed responsibility for a second suicide bombing on August 12 killing another Israeli citizen. Despite this de facto violation of the hudna, Hamas stated that the cease-fire would continue. Hostilities then escalated: the Israeli army killed Islamic Jihad's Muhammad Seeder on August 14; the Jerusalem bus 2 massacre by Hamas and Islamic Jihad on August 19 killed 23 and wounded 136 people; and Israeli forces killed Hamas's Ismail Abu Shanab on August 21. After the killing of the two high-ranking leaders, Hamas eventually called off the hudna.
In January 2004, senior Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi offered a 10-year hudna in return for complete withdrawal from all territories captured in the Six Day War, the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, and the unlimited "right of return" for all Palestinian refugees into Israel. Rantissi said the hudna was limited to ten years and represented a decision by the movement because it was "difficult to liberate all our land at this stage; the hudna would however not signal a recognition of the state of Israel." However, Hamas later repudiated this offer and claimed they would never recognize Israel or compromise on their position that Israel needed to dismantled and replaced by a single Palestinian state. The Hamas hudna offers are non-starters with Israel because they demand that Israel cede all of Eastern Jerusalem and accede to the right of return, two elements that have never been accepted by any Israeli governing coalition (whether it was led by liberals or conservatives). Hamas and its supporters have also tended to vary and/or lie about specific numbers related to potential hudna situations (Ian Lustick claimed a separate hudna offer by Hamas had been for a generation—which would equal 25 years—while the actual Hamas offer only covered a 5-year period), as well as making hudna offers when the group perceived itself to be taking losses in its conflict with Israel and eschewing them when it seemed that Israel was on the downside of said conflict. The historical legacy of the hudna concept also drives home a salient point: it was always intended as a way for a losing party to get time and regroup before rising to victory over its enemies.
- Amayreh, Khaled (August 20, 2003). "Is the hudna over?". Al-Ahram Weekly. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
- Avnery, Uri (August 23, 2003). "A Drug for the Addict The End of the Hudna". CounterPunch. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
- Tostevin, Matthew (January 26, 2004). "Israel scorns Hamas 10-year truce plan". Reuters. Retrieved November 21, 2012.