Friday, October 14, 2005
I said recently that the long-expected Palestinian civil war had begun in earnest. Gloria Salt, whose wonderful blog I truly must read more often, has three posts in a row on the subject:
It’s the Wild West revisited in Gaza right now — and none of the bullets flying around are Israeli... not for the first time, events in the region have taken on a certain surreal quality. It must be a little disorienting for Holocaust-denying Abbas to be having reassuring telephone conversations with Ariel Sharon while intra-Palestinian gun battles are raging in Gaza City.Indeed. This entry deserves to be quoted in its entirety:
Lest we infer from the events of last night that Abbas’s Fatah crew are the white hats and Hamas the black in the Gazan Wild West drama:Welcome to the Middle East, folks. A roadblock demonstration is set up by ordinary citizens -- to protest gas prices, of all things. (So far as I know, Palestinians pay Israeli prices -- or worse -- for gasoline, i.e. up to $5 per gallon... because their gasoline is provided by Israel. Why don't Saudi Arabia et al support their Palestinian brethren with cheap gas, for goodness' sake? The short version: Arab mistreatment of the Palestinians is worse than anything they've ever accused the Israelis of doing... and it's been going on for almost sixty years.)
Earlier in the day yesterday, members of Fatah’s military wing, the Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, responded to a roadblock set up east of Khan Yunis by several hundred Palestinians protesting a rise in gas prices by spraying them with gunfire. Taxi-driver Yasser Barakeh, 36, was killed at the scene and three others wounded. In a collective gesture simply loaded with ironic historical reverberations, the drivers at the roadblock reached down, picked up stones, and rained them down on the gun-waving Fatah men. They turned tail and ran.
And how does the Palestinian Authority respond to such a roadblock? By sending their armed thugs, who sprayed the crowd with gunfire. (And then the armed thugs are chased away by Palestinians throwing stones!! The irony in that is just too thick for words.)
You'd think that opening fire on demonstrators would be statement enough, but apparently Abbas took it a step further:
Indeed.Abbas’s Fatah organization, under extreme pressure from both without (violent Islamist factions jockeying for political position) and within (Palestinian security officers who feel increasingly hamstrung by the administration), decided to try a page from Hamas’s own playbook this weekend. Five members of Hamas were kidnapped (and later released relatively unharmed) in a move allegedly orchestrated by PA security officials and “members of the ruling Fatah party”.
Lo and behold, this morning there are reports of a truce between Hamas (among other violent factions) and Fatah.
Word to the wise, Mahmoud: we’ve learned over here that Hamas’s interpretation of the word “truce” is, shall we say, flexible. It also bears mentioning that their spiritual compatriots (and your sworn enemies), eager to see a rejuvenated Taliban in Gaza, are making noises in the neighborhood.
Watch your back.
I still hold out the hope that, somewhere in the mess that is Gaza, the Palestinians will pull a rabbit out of an empty hat, and find a statesman -- or even a warlord -- who can avert a bloodbath. But the historical record doesn't speak well for that chance.
Please note that, had the Palestinians been willing to live in peace with Israelis in the first place (instead of sending their children to blow themselves up in Israeli discotheques and pizza parlors), Israel would no doubt help the Palestinians with their internal troubles however possible. (Didn't Israel offer help to earthquake-devastated Pakistan, as she always does, worldwide, in times of emergency?)
But the Palestinians have long insisted that they wanted Israel out of their affairs... and that they were willing to kill as many Israelis as it took to accomplish that. Israel's Prime Minister Sharon has taken them at their word. Now Israel is more than content to sit back, watch the Judenrein Gaza Strip that the Palestinians claimed they wanted, and wonder at the sight of Palestinians killing each other.
UPDATE: My wife wonders if any Israelis are protesting this brutal mistreatment of Palestinians at the hands of Palestinians. I haven't heard of any, but it wouldn't surprise me!
UPDATE II: Gloria has responded, at great length. I did my best to respond in kind.