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Hamas has apparently won the battle for Gaza. It didn’t seem too hard for them and it didn’t take too long. Clearly their training in Iran and Syria has been helpful in making them far better fighters than the Fatah guys.

This is interesting because Hamas was democratically elected to run the PA. Then, they agreed to share governing with Fatah on the basis of a Saudi-brokered deal but almost immediately had difficulty accepting the power-sharing arrangements. In the meantime, both Israel and the US perceived strong weakness on the part of Fatah, which they consider more “moderate” than Hamas (apparently nationalism is less fanatical than religious faith) and ended up sending them money (tens of millions) and some weaponry.

The weapons and money are either already in the hands of Hamas or soon will be. Hamas will also shortly become the de facto leading voice for the Palestinians. In theory, they could also choose not to run elections ever again, since they will now become the only armed fighting force in Gaza, or they could run manipulated elections. After all, if they give up power in an election to Fatah, many people will seek revenge for all of the killings of the past months of fighting.

Hamas taking over may have other implications. Will they allow Fatah to survive? Can they restrict Fatah in any way and if so, how?

Will Gaza become Islamist in its outlook? Will Sha’aria law be the guiding law? If so, what will their model be? Will it be Iran, Taliban in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia? Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, so this isn’t idle speculation.

Additionally, we have learned that they blew up a Fatah building using a tunnel with a ton of explosives. They’ve been smuggling arms for years now and obviously they have what it takes to win a war. The question, then, is what will they do now that they don’t have Fatah in the way? Essentially, all the resources of the PA and of Gaza will now fall into their hands. Will they openly or secretly build a larger and better armed army?

Whatever they do, their hostility toward Israel remains strong and overt; they continue to negate not only Israel’s existence but also any historical Jewish connection to the area; they maintain a posture of continuing violence against Israel; and they continue to fire rockets daily – even as their civil war hit its zenith, they launched rockets and managed to hit an Israeli elementary school in Sderot (don’t worry too much if you didn’t read about that in the news, the Palestinians are suffering).

All in all, this development isn’t good for Israel, but just how bad we have yet to see. Then again, at least the enemy is out in the open and for the first time in a while, matters won’t be so vague as to confuse the question of who is the key party to whom Israel can speak.

By the way, this disproves the claims of all those who spoke about Israel coming to some sort of agreement with Mahmoud Abbas, the supposed “moderate.” All along I’ve been claiming that he is too weak to cut any sort of deal. Events have proven just that.

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themiddle

16 Comments

  • Couple things…

    Hamas and the Moslem Brotherhood are neither Shia nor Wahabbi and though Gaza’s population tend to be more traditional than in the West Bank, the Palestinians in general are more moderate in their interpretations of Islam than the case in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc…

    Also, Fatah may have a trump card to use against Hamas if they are given the go ahead by Israel/US/Egypt to bring in a large number of Fatah loyalist forces such as the well trained Badr Brigades based in Jordan, who coming from the refugee camps, wouldn’t be tied to the family, clan, or internal Gazan politics, and would be more easily controlled by Dahlan/Abbas, and possibly more effective. While Hamas has won the local PA elections, outside of Palestine, in the refugee camps, it is Fatah that garners the largest following.

    Additionally, the Qassam attacks mainly stem from two issues: one, the fact that there is institutional chaos and no singular hegemonic security apparatus in Gaza, and this allows for more autonomy for independent provocations by smaller militant groups and/or more militant factions within Hamas or Fatah; two, there are elements in Gaza who are trying to provoke Israel as a way to shift the Palestinians away from fighting each other to fighting Israel.

    A last point… If it happens/happened…a solid Hamas takeover is better than the alternative of ongoing chaos, which will only make a space for the growth of groups tied to al-Qaeda and similar ideologies, and we will soon end up with a nostalgia for the good old days of Hamas.

  • rakiah,

    i don’t know if Israel would be down with letting a bunch of heavily armed palestinians from refugee camps(brought up reading the same anti-israel puppet propaganda shit) into an area they currently occupy(wb). after these fine gentlemen beat hamas they would probably not return to the refugee camps like they were hired mercenaries….

    if israel wants anything done in the gaza, israel will have to do it itself. just like has always been.

    and other than entirely freezing any chance of a two state solution/peace agreement is this bad for israel?

  • I don’t think the Badr brigades can cut it against Hamas. Hamas has the motivation, leadership, and home turf advantage. Fatah’s leaders, including Dahlan, were not even present during the latest round of fighting. Besides, Hamas now controls the borders, the Badr won’t be able to get in.

    I wouldnt be sanguine about a Hamas takeover holding back the Salafists. Who on the outside is going to deal with Gaza now — Hamas won’t have the resources to improve Gazan’s lot any, and the Salafist fringe will take advantage of such discontent.

    Who really knows. this is pretty much uncharted territory we’re headed into.

  • One, does Hamas truly control Gaza? Two, if so will their methods turn out to harm them and the Palestinians in the end as far as international opinion?

    I’d like to hear some informed opinons on this. Like Apartheid’s for example.

  • xisnotx, Hamas doesn’t control Gaza’s borders, Israel does.

    Also, in general, our most bitter enemies are often those closest to us religiously and ideologically (hence the fighting between the Christians, Jews and Muslims in competition for who is the true disciple of the one god, we have much less to argue with the Buddhists). For Hamas, the Salafists compete for the same consumer base as Hamas, and they will not enjoy others stepping on their potential powerbase.

    And as xisnotx shows in the last post, it ain’t over by a longshot…I just dread that we haven’t hit the nadir yet, and it isn’t going to be a ride any of us enjoy, not us Israelis and definitely not the Palestinians.

    I read that van Creveld piece a few days ago, he usually has a little more depth of analysis, I found it a very superficial piece. None of the Palestinian factions are going to allow a de facto or de jure separation between Gaza and the West Bank. There are many differences in population, mentality, history, education, economy, religiosity, etc., but the depth of connection between the territories is etched too deeply emotionally, ideologically and politically into the Palestinian consciousness for the van Creveld wetdream to manifest…Israel has tried as hard as they can to separate the issue of the West Bank and Gaza, hence the Dov Weisglass promotion of the Gaza disengagement, where he said: “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process [รขโ‚ฌยฆ] And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem.”…and hence Israel’s desire to push for a Gaza cease fire, without any commitment on the West Bank.

  • It’s not what I expected in August of ’05, but the premise remains the same from my POV: Israel is out and its obligations are over; Israel is out and morally, its slate is much cleaner; Israel is out and if it needs to go back in, it can, but without concern about its civilians or the morality of having them there under special guard and with rules that do not apply to the rest of the population; Israel is out and whatever happens is on the Palestinians’ heads.

    If Israel wants to go back in there, it still can, but that is entirely different than having a civilian population in this hell-hole. And please spare me the preaching about how wonderful it was for those 8000 Israelis, they were being artificially propped and subsidized in every way. In fact, if Israel would put a fraction of the same resources into protecting Sderot now, the situation in that little town within Israel proper would be much better.

  • TM – Middle, they might have it. But what are they going to do with it? Create their own Islamic State? I’d love that, they’ll be able to understand what Israel has gone through since statehood. Only that little sliver between Israel and Egypt will be more isolated and more untenable than the ’48 Israeli borders.

  • Middle – we posted simultaneously. If I had seen your comment I would’ve had my answer and saved myself some time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Boy, did Hamas beat Fatah like a rented mule or what? If it had been Wimbeldon, it would have been game, set, and match in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0, over in less than an hour.

    I have been expecting a Pal civil war from the get-go and I always assumed Hamas would win since they have the dedication, the training, and the vision. I just expected that it would last a little longer and that Fatah would put up more of a fight.

    But, damn, what a bunch of pussies. Fatah has been exposed as the gang of soft, corrupt, gutless losers that they are.

    After this pathetic debacle Fatah has no chance of keeping Judea and Samaria. Remember what bin laden said about strong vs. weak horses?

    The blood is in the water and the sharks are circling. Abu Mazen will be back in Tunis in less than 6 months, if he lives.

    Israel needs to plan for Iranian proxies on all fronts at this point.

    I hope Dahlan and Fatah are organizing a counter offensive. The dead terrorist body count is nowhere near high enough.

  • Middle,

    Thanks for updating me on youre POV.

    You put it like this

    “whatever happens is on the Palestiniansรขโ‚ฌโ„ข heads.

    Are the Palestinians really a people you can do that to?

    I have my doubts…..

  • It seems that the Palestinians are quite headless, amongst other things.
    Especially in light of current events.
    To think of Palestinians a people
    that can be dealt with in a coherent
    manner seems just wrong.

    I do appreciate what you are saying
    about the need to protect Sderot. What is happening (or not happening!) seems
    very important. No doubt that all Jewish people and parties from all extremes
    have a stake in the devolopments in the region around the borders. I can say that
    regardless of my POV about what
    happened in 05.

  • “Apparently nationalism is less fanatical than religious faith.”

    You bet it is. I’d be much more willing to die for a cause if I thought I was going to paradise.

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