The differences between Hamas and Fatah have been well documented and their 2007 open warfare for the control of Gaza was simply the Super Bowl which had one merciful fact, it lasted just under one week from June 10 to June 15, 2007. The official casualty count was one-hundred-twenty Palestinian combatants and thirty-nine Palestinian civilians and two UN personnel. This was the most famous and heavily reported violence between Palestinian factions though there have been numerous breakouts of violence between different family groups, crime entities, competing terrorist groups and sometimes even violence between individuals. Most of the violence has been ignored by most of the world’s media as reporting on violent disagreements between separate Palestinians would detract from their normally presented angelic image usually used to paint the darlings of the mainstream leftist media. If Israelis had problems anywhere near the level of the animosities often overlooked between Hamas and Fatah it would lead every newscast and top every newspaper in the world. Unfortunately for the mainstream media the animosity between Hamas and Fatah and the charges Hamas levels against the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas has been such that it has demanded coverage from time to time. Just to give an idea of the extent that differences and threats between even Hamas and Fatah and the President of the Palestinian Authority just this past week Mahmoud al-Zahar, an ranking officer with Hamas, leveled challenges to the rule of Mahmoud Abbas calling his continued rule as illegitimate as he has not stood for election and thus Abbas’s term as “president” expired years ago. He further accused Abbas of “treachery” for allowing for security coordination and cooperation with the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). Zahar also equated Abbas’s name as an “embarrassment” to every Palestinian. Zahar also addressed the charge that Hamas was working to form their own Palestinian state in Gaza by presenting that Hamas would not be satisfied with a state in Gaza or in the “West Bank” (Judea and Samaria) as their intent is intent on the complete destruction of Israel. Mahmoud Al-Zahar further stated, “If we succeed in setting up a government in Gaza, autonomy, civil administration or any other framework on a portion of the land of Palestine, that does not mean that we give up on one other grain of Palestine.” Just one week earlier Al-Zahar demanded an end to the Palestinian Authority and explained that the “honeymoon period” was over as was any hope of continuing the “unity government” calling for a return to the “armed struggle.” Of course none of this was reported on the evening news throughout much of the world even including some newscasts in Israel. These little spats cannot be permitted to spoil the view that everything between the factions within the Palestinian Arab families might have even the slightest possibility of hitting a rough spot.
The truth is that rough spots is the norm between Hamas and Fatah or even Hamas and the Arab Palestinian Authority and have been that way since the elections in 2006 when Hamas won the Parliamentary elections and Abbas decided that there was no need for having an election for his spot as the President of the Arab Palestinian Authority as he had just succeeded the Late Yasser Arafat just over eighteen months earlier and extended his term until the next elections in 2009. This problem was the result of the hubris of the United States, surprise, surprise. President George W. Bush and his then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted that the Palestinian Parliamentary elections of 2006 had to be open to all the parties of the Arab Palestinian Authority, both Fatah and Hamas. Somehow they missed insisting on Islamic Jihad but why quibble over degrees of disasters. Mahmoud Abbas pleaded with President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to reconsider informing that allowing for Hamas to field candidates against Fatah would result in a disaster and a Hamas victory, the only variable was the scale of the disaster. Prime Minister Sharon also demanded that this open election not be pressed as it would all but guarantee a Hamas victory which Israel pressed would be a disaster for Israel, any hopes for peace and might even result in a new war. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice remained adamant and the rest is history, Hamas won a majority in the Parliament and all elections going forward would end up cancelled after the Gaza War which led to a Hamas government in Gaza and a Fatah controlled Arab Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria (West Bank).
There was a new wrinkle this past week when violence flared in Judea and Samaria between different segments of the Arab Palestinian Authority, of different Fatah factions. The latest flare-up has broken out in two locations, Jenin, once the location of a false massacre that to this day is still used to attempt to besmirch the IDF despite the fact that even the United Nations, not exactly the best friend when it comes to defending Israel, investigated the battle and found that for all intents and purposes the casualties were virtually all combatants and the numbers were minimal and nowhere near the numbers claimed by Palestinian spokespersons or numerous international NGOs, and Nablus, historically named Shechem since the times of ancient Israel of nearly three-thousand years ago. Both Jenin and Nablus are within Area A which places them under complete Arab Palestinian Authority control which includes both civil and security. The laws in these two cities and surrounding areas is made by the Arab Palestinian Authority Parliament and is enforced completely by the Arab Palestinian Authority Security Forces personnel. All of this was spelled out and stipulated part and parcel in the 1993 Oslo Accords and was intended to allow the Arabs to prove they were capable of self-rule and managing their own areas, the results of this have been mixed at best. The violence which broke out this week was not a sign that things are going neither well in Jenin nor in Nablus. Let us take the two locations separately.
Jenin has been a powder-keg as the refugee camp there has been the home of numerous different terrorist squads and crime within the camp has been a running problem as the refugees are denied employment and are prime candidates to join terrorist squads or turn to crime as any manner of escape from the camps is highly desirable. The fact that there are Arab Palestinian refugee camps within Judea and Samaria as well as within Gaza is virtually beyond belief. These Arabs are living in what can only be described as government provided apartment buildings similar in design to the government housing in the inner cities in the United States, permanent structures made of concrete forms and fully furnished just as any other apartment building except that these apartment buildings hold Palestinians denoted as refugees living amongst Palestinians in a Palestinian governed area. Should the world decide tomorrow to end the farce which is the Palestinian refugee permanent and festering situation where if either of your parents were refugees then you will grow up as a refugee and your children and their children yet to be born will also be refugees. The violence, which was reported in some news media given the kind of coverage where it was not a leading story, broke out on Friday between members of the Fatah Party, possibly from their “military wing” the al-Aqsa’s Military Brigades, and Arab Palestinian Authority Security Forces, the “military and police forces” of the Arab Palestinian Authority which is made up mostly if not entirely by Fatah members in central Jenin near the refugee camp. This was simply the latest in a series of firefights between the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades forces and the Arab Palestinian Authority forces. One such incident resulted in the Arab Palestinian Authority Security Force Headquarters being engulfed in a hail of bullets where fortunately and miraculously nobody was injured.
The amazing thing is the Fatah and the Arab Palestinian Authority both have Mahmoud Abbas as their leader. Abbas is the Chairman of the Fatah Party and the President of the Arab Palestinian Authority, so this pitted armed men from one side under Mahmoud Abbas shooting and engaged with armed men on the other side under Mahmoud Abbas, and this is a normalcy within their society with its dualities often drawn to separate the so-called refugees from the rest of the population. The next day, Saturday, in the Balata “Refugee Camp” in Nablus, the car of a leading Fatah activists, Fayiz Arafat, was set on fire. Several days before his vehicle was burnt, he was the target of an apparent assassination attempt which the local people placed the blame on the Arab Palestinian Authority Security officers. These shootings have been escalating under the radar for quite some time and only recently have they spilled out of control and thus started to be reported in some reports within the communities, both refugee and normative Arab Palestinians. These outbursts of violence have been escalating with their having been two main sources leading up to these escalations, coup attempts by Hamas and the influx of ISIS supporters starting to form cells which are then seen as rivals leading to their targeting by the long-standing forces from within Fatah, some of which also serve in the Arab Palestinian Authority Security Forces. Last year there was being formed a larger force by Hamas operatives for the purpose of launching a coup against Fatah and taking over the Arab Palestinian Authority in a similar escalation which resulted in Gaza being run by Hamas outside of the Arab Palestinian Authority control and rule. The Hamas growing threat was detected by Israeli forces who arrested the leaders of the cell and the cell collapsed fragmenting without its leadership.
The breakout of firefights between Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade forces and the Arab Palestinian Authority Security Forces is a surprising development. The supporters of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades forces lay all of the blame for instigating this situation by pressing their efforts against Fatah Activists Fayiz Arafat as part and parcel of their attempts to also take control over the Balata Refugee Camp wresting it from its local control and enforcement by the Fatah forces. This is not as far-fetched as it may at first appear as there has been any number of these situations recently. Some of the violence has occurred before but then mostly as isolated incidents. There was also the arrest and breakup of an ISIS cell in Hevron earlier this month and more such threats promise to appear as ISIS has gained strength by garnering recruits from both Fatah members and Hamas members plus anyone who have lost their faith in the faction’s ability to deliver on its promises of destroying Israel and instead seek out ISIS who have a record of being the stronger force capable of delivering on their promises for actions in place of words though we have seen little reservations. Should these differences continue to fracture the Arab society and place each group at the other groups’ throats with the violence constantly ramping upward becoming more serious, eventually destroying any hopes of the entire Arab community. Turning to ISIS will simply represent the Arab society proving that their intent was never to form their own state but solely to destroy the Jewish State of Israel. Such irreconcilable truth being exhibited will only serve to refute even their most ardent supporters’ claims that their intentions are of a limited nature and not having the complete destruction of Israel as their lifelong goal. Turning to ISIS will signal the end of the ability of even the Europeans and the lunatic fringe extreme leftists from denying the claim that the aims of the Palestinian society is destruction of Israel and not the construction of their own state.
Beyond the Cusp