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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gaza: The anti-Altalena of the Palestinians

The Palestinian authority in Gaza is apparently falling apart. Palestinians are actually asking for the return of Israel:
On Tuesday, a Palestinian journalist likened the Palestinian Authority to a smoke-belching car wreck, adding that it was time to toss the keys to the Israelis. His view is shared by many Palestinian civilians in Gaza, who in recent days have told the media that they are fed up. "We've had enough, we should be so lucky as to see the return of the Israeli occupation."
There are a few lessons here for everyone. In 1948, dissident Irgun fighters tried to import arms to Israel for their group. Ben-Gurion saw it as an attempt at a coup and ordered Yitzhak Rabin to sink the ship, the Altalena, that was bringing the arms. Since then, there was only one rule in Israel, and it was decided democratically.
Israelis waited in vain for a Palestinian "Altalena," in which the various militant groups would be suppressed.  It never came.
The Gaza fighting spells out the obvious lesson: The Palestinian authority was never democratic, because  in a democracy, power cannot grow out of the barrel of a gun. The tragedy of secular Palestinian nationalism is that they did not have an "Altalena," but an anti-Altalena.
History can take many twists. We often like to indulge in "what if" speculation. It is very rare that we can really see what would have happened "if." For those who wonder what would have happened if Rabin had not sunk the Altalena, the fighting in Gaza is a demonstration.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 07:58 13/06/2007   
By Avi Issacharoff , Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service

Hamas attacked Fatah positions in the central Gaza Strip with mortars and anti-tank rockets, Palestinian sources, as fighting between the rival groups continued Wednesday.
Five people, apparently civilians, were wounded in the attacks, including two who are in serious condition.
Hamas said it also seized and bulldozed a key Fatah outpost that controls Gaza's main north-south road.
At least 25 people were killed and dozens wounded in Tuesday's fighting, including at least 10 who were killed when Hamas captured the headquarters of the Fatah-allied security forces in northern Gaza.
Since the latest round of violence broke out Monday, 36 Palestinians have been killed.
The capture of the Fatah headquarters was seen as a key victory for Hamas, which said its forces had taken control of all of northern Gaza. Fatah sources said Tuesday they believed Hamas was seeking a decisive victory in the Strip.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh both made calls for restraint Tuesday, but they went largely unheeded. Fatah announced Tuesday night that it was suspending its participation in the Palestinian unity government until the fighting stopped.
Forces loyal to Abbas were ordered Tuesday evening to defend their positions in Gaza, and counter a "coup" by Hamas.
The fighting also targeted senior officials from both sides. A deputy cabinet minister from Hamas was abducted in Ramallah, sparking fears that the fighting could spill over into the West Bank. Late Tuesday evening, Fatah said it had wounded four Hamas gunmen during a shootout in the West Bank city of Nablus.
On Tuesday morning, gunmen attacked Haniyeh's home in a refugee camp near Gaza City, for the second time in as many days.
Hamas branded the assault with a rocket-propelled grenade an assassination attempt. Haniyeh and his family were in the house, but unhurt.

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