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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ha'aretz: Only Israeli occupation can save Fatah in Gaza

This is a startling and stark analysis from Ha'aretz, a dovish newspaper.
The Gazans are repeating one clear message: only Israeli occupation will save them. There is no other solution on the horizon.
The question is, whether saving Fatah unconditionally is in Israel's interests or the interests of peace. In 1970, Israel allowed thousands of fleeing Fatah/PLO people into the West Bank from Jordan. They expressed their gratitude by founding the Black September movement and carrying out the Munich Olympics massacre.
What could Israel gain from reoccupying Gaza, other than world opprobrium, if the move is not coordinated with the international community and does not eliminate all the armed groups?
Ami Isseroff
Haaretz Correspondent
Last update - 04:29 17/05/2007

Four days into the current round in the Palestinian civil war in the Gaza Strip, with Fatah fighting Hamas, several phenomena have emerged:

1. Hamas has won every confrontation since fighting started Sunday. Its military dominance and supremacy are clear. Nearly all the fatalities have been from Hamas attacks. Even the five Hamas militants killed Wednesday died in an assault by their comrades against a Fatah force that took them hostage. Hamas is conducting itself like a military organization: It moves its forces, positions snipers, uses light artillery (mortars, for example), sets up ambushes in strategic locations, and systematically targets Fatah's leadership in the Gaza Strip, based on hit lists it has drafted.

2a. Fatah's leadership vacuum is the main reason for the group's defeat in the current round. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is still not showing signs of leadership. He is still afraid to take definitive action against Hamas, even though Hamas is harming the symbols of his authority. Last night he issued a statement, again, ordering a cease-fire, even though most of his men have been on the defensive since the fighting began and have
not initiated action.

2b. The leadership vacuum is even more blatant given Mohammed Dahlan's absence from the region. The Palestinian national security adviser managed to rally Fatah's loyalist groups during the previous round of fighting.
Dahlan even initiated action against Hamas, including the raid on the Islamic University, a hotbed of Hamas activity. It is not clear whether Hamas planned this current outbreak after confirming Dahlan was out of the picture, but the fact of the matter is that this round caught Dahlan hospitalized in Cairo following back surgery. If the fighting ends soon, Dahlan will come out as the only man in Fatah capable of preventing Gaza from falling to Hamas.

3. The Israel Defense Forces attack against the Hamas Executive Force headquarters in Rafah was not aimed at putting an end to the Qassams. Such attack actually may strengthen Hamas' standing among the Palestinians. But
in view of television shots of Sderot being evacuated and given the approaching Labor primaries, the Israeli leadership is finding restraint difficult.

4. The Gazans are repeating one clear message: only Israeli occupation will save them. There is no other solution on the horizon.

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