Monday, June 30, 2014

Qawasmeh as Spoilers

Shlomi Eldor situates the murder of three Israeli teenagers within a historical pattern of the Hebron area's Qawasmeh clan working to undermine Hamas moves toward moderation:
The total number of people belonging to the clan is estimated at about 10,000, making it one of the three largest clans in the Mount Hebron region. At least 15 members of the family were killed during the second intifada, nine of them while committing suicide attacks against Israel. All of the terrorists lived in the Abu Qatila neighborhood, within a radius of less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) from one another. Whenever the head of the terrorist organization within the clan was assassinated or arrested by Israel, one of his brothers or cousins was selected to replace him...
Marwan Qawasmeh, the man behind the abduction (of the teenagers), emerged as a dominant figure in the clan after Israel arrested Imad Qawasmeh and sentenced him to life in prison.
Each time Hamas had reached an understanding with Israel about a cease-fire or tahadiyeh (period of calm), at least one member of the family has been responsible for planning or initiating a suicide attack, and any understandings with Israel, achieved after considerable effort, were suddenly laid waste.
Back in the days of the peace process, people spoke of a "bomber's veto," in which terrorist attacks would disrupt the negotiations whenever they made progress.  Israel and the Palestinians are not negotiating at the moment, but Hamas has reached an accord for Palestinian unity with Fatah, one in which Hamas is allowing Fatah to take the lead.  If the Qawasmehs are the party responsible for the deaths of the three youths, then they are using Israeli as their willing military force to push Hamas toward more hardline policies.

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