Monday, June 11, 2007


The Latest From Gaza

So it's come to this:
Gunmen Fire At Two Palestinian Authority Officials

June 11, 2007 9:16 a.m. EST

Linda Young - AHN News Writer

Gaza City, Gaza Strip (AHN) - Gunmen on Monday fired on the home of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the office of the Sports and Culture Minister Bassem Naim, both of the Hamas political party. The attack on Haniyeh came early on Monday morning and the attack on Naim was Monday afternoon, local time.

Haniyeh lives in the Shati refugee camp, which is located next to Gaza City. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Haniyeh's wife, children and grandchildren were home at the time of the attack, but there was no word on whether he was inside the home or nearby at the time of the attack.

The gunfire came from a nearby high-rise building and lasted about 15 minutes, according to AP reports.

Naim, who was inside the building during the attack but was not harmed, is a close associate of Haniyeh. His sister and a ministry official identified only as Ahmed blamed factions within Fatah for the attack.

"It was the Fatah gangs. There was no justification. We were at work, and the ministry came under fire," Ahmed told the Hamas-affiliated Aqsa Radio, according to Jerusalem Post reports.

After the shootings, both Fatah and Hamas leaders called for an end to the violence, citing the need of thousands of high school students for calm to study for their matriculation exams.

"This is shameful for our people," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said. He spoke during a trip to a school in the West Bank, according to Jerusalem Post reports. "I call on everyone to stop this immediately, not only because of the examinations, but also for our people to live a normal life."

It looks as though the Palestinian Civil War has escalated -- again.

We're not talking about armed gangs roaming the streets, accountable to nobody; that's old news. Nor are we talking about Palestinian police forcing their way into a session of Parliament and firing their automatic weapons at the ceiling; that's old news too. We're not even talking about Fatah and Hamas attacking each other openly. Rather, we're seeing Fatah, having lost fair and square at the ballot box, resorting to assassination in order to regain power.

This, on the heels of a remarkable admission from last week:
'Palestinians are on verge of civil war'

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned Tuesday that his people were on the verge of civil war and said the infighting was worse than living under Israeli military rule.

. . .

Abbas focused on the bloody factional fighting between Fatah and Hamas. The two parties have been governing in an uneasy coalition since March, after a year of Hamas-only rule, but another round of deadly gun battles erupted in May.

"Regarding our internal situation, what concerns us all is the chaos, and more specifically, being on the verge of civil war," Abbas said.

He said he has spent hundreds of negotiating hours trying to halt the bloodshed, "realizing that what is equal to or even worse than occupation is internal fighting."
I expected, back when the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was complete, that we'd soon see Palestinians complaining that "Israeli occupation" is preferable to the chaos of Palestinian self-rule. But I wasn't expecting to hear it from Abbas -- and on the forty-year anniversary of the start of the Six Day War, of all things!

It isn't just Abbas saying this, either:
For example, Majed Azzam wrote in the Hamas-affiliated weekly Al Risala in Gaza that Palestinians “should have the courage to acknowledge the truth,” that the only thing that “prevents the chaos and turmoil in Gaza from spreading to the West Bank is the presence of the Israeli occupation.”

Another Palestinian writer, Bassem al-Nabris, a poet from Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, wrote in the Arabic electronic newspaper Elaph that if there was a referendum in the Gaza Strip on the question of whether people would like the Israeli occupation to return, “half the population would vote ‘yes.’ But in practice,” he continued, “I believe that the number of those in favor is at least 70 percent, if not more.”

"If the occupation returns," Mr. Nabris added, "at least there will be no civil war, and the occupier will have a moral and legal obligation to provide the occupied people with employment and food, which they now lack."

This has long been a crucial problem among the Palestinians. For all their longing for a state of their own, they have done very little of their own work to set up such a state, or to provide for their people in the event that a Palestinian state becomes possible.

For the record: the Jewish self-government under the British Mandate, 1922 to 1948, took care of everything, except for those priorities the British claimed for themselves. As a result, when the British left in 1948, the infant State of Israel was ready to go. No outside help was needed to provide electricity, or to repave roads, or to build hospitals; Israel depended on no one to build an economy for her. In 1948 Israel had several philharmonic orchestras, a thriving independent press, an increasing number of local industries, agricultural and industrial exports, and much more.

The Palestinians, by contrast, have the trappings of government, multiple competing militias (all of which are as comfortable with terror tactics against each other as they are against Israelis)... and not much else. Gazans launch rocket attacks against Israeli civilian populations daily... and still expect Israel to provide tens of thousands of jobs for them!

What infrastructure and institutions they have were mostly built for them, using other people's money. (Ironically, it was frequently Israel both doing the construction and footing the bill.)

If the Palestinians are ever to abandon their wretched status and join the 21st century, as the proud, productive people they want to be, they'll need to take responsibility for themselves, first of all. And if they can't even produce a home-grown government that's preferable to the hated Occupation, their short-term prospects do not look good.


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