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Tension in Palestine

Oct 1, 2006

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Tensions between political factions Hamas and Fatah have been getting worse for months and came to a head recently.

On December 12, three young brothers, sons of a Fatah security force member, ages three to nine, were shot by unidentified gunmen.

On December 14, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya was detained at the Rafah International Crossing in Egypt by Israeli Occupational forces. Haniya was bringing money into Gaza to maintain government functions since other sources of funding are being blocked by Israel, the U.S. and Britain. Haniya’s Hamas supporters clashed with Palestinian security forces at Rafah, also with Israeli and Egyptian forces as well. Thirteen people including three children and four civilians were wounded.

After several hours, Haniya was allowed to enter Gaza without the money. His convoy was attacked, one bodyguard was killed, Haniya’s son and an adviser were wounded. Fatah supporters have been accused of the attack.

On December 16, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a call for early elections of Parliament, now controlled by Hamas, and the Presidency. Hamas leaders say the declaration is illegal and is tantamount to a coup. Palestinian law allows the president to appoint or dismiss the prime minister, but the parliament must approve any election. It is doubtful the Hamas led parliament will support it’s dissolution or an election.

Large rallies were held on Saturday by both factions. Hamas legislator Mushir Al Masri accused Abbas of illegally calling for early elections, and said his plans are "of defeat and submission to the Zionist enemy." Ismail Radwan, a Hamas spokesman said that Hamas “will not be driven into a civil war” by Fatah or the United States.


The Imperialist powers, U.S., Europe and Israel, support Abbas because he favors a “two-state” solution to the occupation by Israel. In a typical imperialist tactic to set one group against another to promote instability in an area, Condoleeza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State announced she will request tens of millions of dollars from congress to assist Abbas’ security forces. Tony Blair, British Prime Minister, who is in the Middle East for meetings with Israeli leader Olmert, promised a “package of assistance” to go through Abbas’ office as well.

December 17 saw increased violence between the two factions, with most of the violence occurring in Gaza, at least three people killed and many wounded. A truce was reached early on Monday (12/18).

It is hoped that the Fatah and Hamas factions will resume talks to form a “unity” government that is suitable to the people of Palestine whether or not it is agreeable to Israel and its allies.

Mouin Rabbani, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, at research group on foreign policy, says that progress will be possible based only on political consensus, even if the West doesn’t love the result. Rabbani went on to say “The international community may have preferences, but this practice of trying to make progress on the basis of divisions in the Palestinian national movement has backfired spectacularly.”


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