Friday, December 15, 2006

Palestinian Crisis

At Israelis begin their celebration of Hanukkah, the Palestinians are undergoing what may be the worst internal crisis in their history. As reported here and here, the violence which has been building in the Gaza Strip has now included Hamas storming Fatah positions at the Rafah border crossing, followed by gunfire at the car of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah. Hamas has accused Fatah's Gaza security guru Muhammad Dahlan of ordering Haniyah's assassination, and in return Fatah has accused Hamas of seeking to assassinate several Fatah leaders. Meanwhile, in Ramallah, a rally to celebrate Hamas's founding turned violent when demonstrators clashed with armed Fatah loyalists.

Hamas has accused Fatah of trying to set off a civil war, and there have been leaks that suggest Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmud Abbas has considered strong action. At the moment, however, the situation looks more like gang warfare among the ruins of Gaza, and with both Haniyah and exiled Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal appealing for calm, the coming days could be better, without the provocation of the Hamas anniversary events. These events do, however, show how bad intra-Palestinian conflict could become if the sides don't soon reach an agreement.

One final question: If Ismail Haniyah joined Hamas to become "a martyr, not a minister," why doesn't he just resign?


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