From Ynet News, Opinion, by Ofer Shelah (11.16.05, 11:56) ...
Mark your calendars (January / February 2006): Israel, Hamas on a collision course
While Israelis occupy themselves with the coming election campaign and the never-ending discussion about "just what is Yitzhak Rabin's legacy," preparations are being completed for the next round of Israel-Palestinian violence.....to any Israeli with eyes in his head, it is clear: If there is no real change ..... the explosion is sure to come. We even know the date....
Monday, Amjad Hanawi, described as the "leader of Hamas in Nablus," was killed. ...despite promises of retribution, Hamas is unlikely to respond to this event, just as it has refrained from responding in most previous instances. The reason has nothing to do...with the (very high) ability of the IDF and Shin Bet to carry out targeted killings. Rather, it has to do with something entirely different.
Hamas is a highly-disciplined organization.... Until the Palestinians hold parliamentary elections in less than two months, Hamas will continue to battle for legitimacy and will avoid action that would re-ignite the conflict.
Israel, predictably, reads this interest - which, more than anything, was responsible for the calm that reigned during the disengagement – as license to kill....
... The result of all this is clear: In January, save for some sort of miracle, Hamas is expected to do very well in the elections. Afterwards, the organization will try to realize its power, and if it encounters opposition it will try to realize the retribution it has been promising for months.
If so, then the path to conflict is clearly defined and smoothly paved.
The truly amazing thing in all this is that every Israeli and Palestinian knows this, but we all continue along the path, as if we have no choice.