Wednesday, June 13, 2007


The situation in Gaza continues to spiral down into an outright war between Fatah and Hamas, the two main rival political parties. (By the way, am I the first to use the old "spiral down" cliche in relation to Gaza, so often applied to the Palestine-Israel conflict?) At least 28 were killed in gunbattles throughout the Gaza Strip, but most intensely in the northern tip, where Hamas fighters captured Fatah headquarters at Beit Hanun. The Fatah leadership throughout Gaza has been deliberately targeted, with rocket attacks on their homes. Whoever suggested sending guns and ammunition to help Fatah against Hamas might reconsider, since now Hamas has captured most of the weapons Fatah had stored in northern Gaza.
In the fighting, Hamas is more disciplined and more ruthless. For example, they directly attacked one of the two main hospitals in the Gaza Strip, shutting it down, and shot dead members of Fatah who were wounded and in beds, including one who was actually on the operating table. Fatah is larger in number of soldiers, but is split into many groups (including the Security forces, the Presidential Guard, the al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, etc.). Also, Pres. Abbas is weak both in terms of his control over the Fatah forces and in terms of his personal actions. He now accuses Hamas of a coup attempt, but its already happening and he is letting them know that he disapproves and has announced that Fatah will no longer serve in the Unity Government.
Meanwhile Hamas is consolidating their positions in order to take over the whole Gaza Strip, and unless the fighting stops within two days they will be in total control. This is thought to be the aim of Khaled Mashaal who runs the Hamas headquarters in Damascus. If they succeed, then Gaza will become Hamastan, an extreme fundamentalist Muslim area, where women will be covered in burkas, all forms of public entertainment and music will be banned, and Imams will control everything, much as in Iran and the former Taliban Afghanistan. Is that what the pro-Palestinian leftists in Europe want?
If Gaza goes this way, then there could be a split between Gaza and the West Bank, where Fatah is more dominant than Hamas, and most Palestinians are more modernized as a result of closer interactions with Israel, and they certainly don't want a fundamentalist Muslim State (can you imagine Hanan Ashrawi in a burka?) If that happens then there might be a "three state solution"?
Because of its reluctance to get involved in an internal Palestinian fight, the Israeli Govt. has called on Western nations to intervene to stop the fighting in Gaza. But, even though they will no doubt see Hamas as a threat, they probably will not want to get involved (although they are often willing to give Israel advice). In a nice twist, Dutch forces fighting in Afghanistan have issued orders for assassination attacks against Taliban leaders, although the Dutch Government previously said Israel's targeted assassinations against Hamas were "reprehensible."
Meanwhile, fighting continues in Lebanon, where the Lebanese Army, after suffering 65 casualties, still has not taken the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian camp from the Fatah al-Islam fighters. Fighting also continues in Iraq and Afghanistan. It seems that Islam is a violent religion/culture.


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