Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Gaza Strife

Avi Isaccharoff fears that the Gaza Strip may be on the edge of civil war. Discussions of whether a certain conflict constitutes a "civil war" don't interest me as much as what particular events are actually taking place and what their effects are, and in that spirit, I don't see how anyone can look at the situation and not be concerned. Nobody is effectively running the place, and militant groups both large and small rule at gunpoint. After the murder of three of a Fatah leader's children, Laila el-Haddad also fears the worst:
"Fatah supporters blocked off main roads in the city with burning tyres, and others called for a general strike, shooting at stores who refused to close shop.

"They stormed the parliment and called for the Hamas-run government's immediate resignation, shooting wildly into the air throughout the city and making scathing insults against Hamas leaders.

"Tensions were running very high and threatened to spill over into the streets-everybody wanted someone to blame and for Fateh, that someone was Hamas.

"Hamas withdrew its forces to avoid confronation, and later at night in a show of solidarity, representatives of all the factions, including Hamas, joined forces with Fateh in a candelight vigil against violence and criminality in front of the father's house...

Today's sad events have triggered widespread fear and uncertainty. The tension is palpable in the air and threatens to boil over at any time. As the florist down the street told me, 'I used to say before I was afraid of what is coming. But now, I am REALLY afraid. No body knows what's going to happen next.'"

This isn't just about the human cost. Gaza is a laboratory for what happens when Israel withdraws from Palestinian territory. Until it stabilizes, any Israeli government will find it hard to move out of the much more sensitive West Bank.


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