The fighting in the miserable and awful Gaza Strip has taken a horrid turn for the worse.
Hamas has reportedly given Fatah until 7 pm on Friday — that’s about 24 hours from now — to hand over its weapons, or else.
Hamas has reportedly exploded a one-ton bomb under “Preventive Security” headquarters in Gaza Strip, after calling on all those inside to surrender and come out. At least one person was killed — think The Battle of Algiers.
Meanwhile, several dozen Fatah fighters have crossed across the border to escape — and they have been taken into custody by Egyptian security
Two days ago, Fatah fighters took a captured Hamas fighter up to the top of an 18-story (some reports say 15-story) building, and threw him off. Within hours, Hamas fighters took a captured Fatah fighter to the top of a 12-story building, and threw him off — think General Augusto Pinochet — or was it the miserable Argentinian generals? –Â whose minions took accused leftists up in helicopters, drugged and bound, and tossed them from high up in the air, into the ocean.
Meanwhile, this is a small part of what is going on in the West Bank:
Charles Shammas, a member of the conference steering committee from Ramallah – and head of Mattin, a human rights based policy research organization – recounted the following at a conference in Jerusalem just a few days ago:
“Last week I was stuck in my office, when an Israeli unit arrived, firing spectacularly. At least 200 people witnessed this. We watched as a suspect, who had been seated in a restaurant across the street from where I was, got up and left. He was first shot in the legs, [and] then finished off in the head. It is the fourth case of willful killing I have personally witnessed, over 20 years.”
The Palestinian minister of information, Marwan Barghouti, also witnessed the attack, attending a meeting in the same building – albeit in another office – as Shammas at the time of the killing. Barghouti’s office reports that 24 shots were fired into the unarmed victim – a 22-year-old man, Omar Abu Daher, who was a member of the Palestinian Presidential Security Guard – and that Barghouti’s car was also fired at by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as the minister tried to follow the ambulance taking Daher to hospital.
A third witness to the killing was Sam Bahour, who posted on Electronic Intifada (a non-profit independent Web site focusing on the occupied territory) that seven other persons were wounded in the same IDF attack.
You who are in the outside world may not realize yet that Fatah is the big loser in all this.
Palestinian friends who are not politicos have all told me in recent weeks how angry they are with Fatah, and blame them for all the problems that have happened since Fatah began acting out following their trouncing at the polls in January 2006. These friends are not fundamentalists — several of them are, in fact, Christian — and all of them are educated and modern.
Instead of sulking, and trying to teach Hamas a lesson about how hard it is to rule in the occupied territory and deal with the Israelis and all, these Palestinian friends believe that Fatah should have moved for reconciliation right away.
No, it took a year, and Saudi mediation at Mecca, to get Fatah to agree to join a “national unity” government with Hamas. Meanwhile, by the way, Fatah was doing what it could to help the international boycott against the Hamas government and the Palestinian people livining in the West Bank and Gaza.
For a brief period, about ten days ago, I thought I detected a new trend — I thought Fatah was about to organize a campaign to urge the Palestinian people (the very ones who voted, at least 60% of them, in favor of Hamas candidates a year and a half ago) to reconcile with Hamas, so that they could work together, and present a united face to the world.
When I ran this by my Palestinian friends the reactions — all polled separately — were unanimous: “This is what they should have done from the beginning”, they all said, one after the other, over a period of days. Their eyes flashed with real anger, and their jaws set.
Then, last Friday, I read in an English-language Israeli newspaper that Fatah had asked Israel for permission to bring in from Egypt arms to fight HAMAS. I realized then, in great disappointment, how badly deluded I had briefly been.
Now, there are only worse-case scenarios: If Hamas takes over Gaza, then there will really be a long-term political separation between the West Bank and Gaza, and there will be no Palestinian tate. What a real pity.
The other scenario is an Israeli re-invasion of Gaza — interestingly, it is mostly the moral do-gooders who are advocating this, in anguish, to stop the bloodshed and the terror felt by all Palestinians in Gaza. But I do not think the Israeli leadership is interested in this.
It will cost them a lot, their soldiers may die — and what’s really in it for them, after all?
They would just be acting to preserve this pre-statal failed state entity which hasn’t been able to come to terms with very much of anything at all, including the interests of its own people.