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Gaza Anarchy

July 2, 2012

Tuesday, July 3. 2007

Article in Muslim Weekly 29 June 2007

Gaza Anarchy

Ismail Patel

The chaos in Gaza cannot be explained by superficial analysis. The depth of this conflict belies any dismissive civil war claims and only when we recognise the true elements behind the violence, can there be a real lasting and peaceful solution to it.

While it is true that the fighting is between Hamas and Fatah front men, it is far greater powers that are the driving forces controlling these internal conflicts. Those fighting on the streets are merely pawns in a political struggle that has gone on since January 2006 between Hamas on the one side, and Fatah, Israel, and the US on the other.

The psychological state of Gazas 1.4 million citizens is overwrought. The withdrawal of Israeli settlements from this densely populated strip of land did not bring freedom; it brought further and almost absolute imprisonment. The fate of Gaza as an open air prison was finally sealed when Israel won international backing to isolate and blockade the Palestinians for choosing Hamas as their governing body.

Following this, the US support for Mahmoud Abbas was clinched with the provision of millions for the formation and maintenance of the Presidential Guard. What did this mean in reality? The US financed and armed Abbas with a fighting force to oppose Hamas on the streets, with the eventual aim of ousting them. The result of this has been an eruption in the number of weapons on the streets stamped made in the US/Israel. When this is coupled with empty shelves in the shops of Gaza; a starving population, and I do not use the word starving lightly; schools without even pens to write with; hospitals without the bare essentials; and Paracetamol becoming a precious medicine in a pharmacy; total anarchy is the expected resultant. Yet the population still, through some divine will, seemed to hold themselves together and pull back from complete social breakdown on a number of occasions.

However, each time an agreement was reached; the US/Israel backed, paid for and subtly instructed pro-Fatah supporters once again entered conflict with their Hamas counterparts. The goal for Fatah was the free reign and power they previously enjoyed over the Palestinian people and coffers. The events of this week were the final nail in the coffin for the co-existence and split rule between Fatah and Hamas, and the latter ended the tit for tat orchestrated violence by taking total control which will end Israel and American influence over the internal Palestinian hostilities.

From this perspective, it becomes clear why Hamas took this severe action and risked so many lives in obtaining control. For Hamas this internal struggle became an issue of political survival and the historical unity enjoyed by the Palestinians, even after the founding of Hamas 20 years ago, had to be temporarily shattered to maintain it. Further to this, the overall security of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip could only be ensured by one party being in charge. Historically, a Fatah rule has been mired with nepotism and corruption and Hamas was voted in to change this.

The challenge was not only for Hamas survival but for the security in the Strip and to further the work to fulfil Palestinian aspirations of independence and freedom in the long run. Abbas declaration of a state of emergency and the appointment of Salam Fayyad as the Prime minister, which in reality he has no hope of enforcing, is a marked contrast to Ismail Haniyas response. Haniya has re-affirmed his commitment to the unity government, to democracy and to the Mecca Agreement. Further to this, he has made it clear that Hamas would not impose injunctions upon people as to how they should conduct their lives; has called on his supporters to release Fatah members captured in the fighting, and has demanded that the captors of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston free him immediately.

Meanwhile, according to Ha’aretz, plans are afoot in Israel to isolate Gaza from the West Bank. There is no doubt that Israel and the international community will attempt to disenfranchise and further cripple Gaza in the hope that Gazans abandon Hamas and at the same time prop up Abbas in the West Bank. Abbas and Olmert have further called for a UN or international protective force in Gaza. This is indicative of the level of cooperation between Abbas and Israeli/US.

Rather ironically, over the past 40 years during which period Israel has murdered over ten thousand Palestinians, the calls for an international protective force were blocked by the very same people who are today calling for one. Thus, one can only conclude that it will do no harm to Israels overall control of the area, while crippling Palestinian self-rule.

What is apparent from the developments since January 2006 is that Hamas is not a transitory phenomenon in the Palestinian political landscapes and the US/Israel collective failure to oust them through subjugation and force has in fact further empowered them. What needs to take place is open dialogue with the Palestinian peoples democratic choice of leadership. This is the most prudent path to minimise the civilian suffering in Gaza.

Friends of Al Aqsa is a voluntary organisation concerned with the defence of
Al Aqsa Haram Sharif and the protection of Palestinian Human Rights.
P.O. Box 5127, Leicester. LE2 0WU. England.
Tel 077 11 823 524
Fax ++ 44 [116] 253 7575


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