Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Territories

Bad news this week out of the Palestinian territories. Hamas and Fatah inch closer and closer to full blown civil strife. The Ceasefires they engineer break down before the ink is dry.

This story from NYTimes:

Hamas forces appear to be in control of northern Gaza, bordering Israel, down through most of Gaza City, with Fatah forces concentrated around the government and security compounds of the Remal neighborhood, surrounding the main security headquarters, Saraya, and the presidential compound of Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, who is not in Gaza. Hamas fighters at checkpoints were stopping all cars to look for Fatah members or members of the security forces, said Tawfiq Abu Khoussa, a Fatah leader in Gaza City. He demanded that “Hamas remove all the checkpoints throughout the Gaza Strip but mainly in Gaza City.” Continuing detentions or kidnappings of fighters were reported, with Fatah accusing Hamas of detaining as many as 40 of its members or security officials at such roadblocks. Hamas forces have also been overrunning and sometimes destroying headquarters of the Fatah-dominated Preventive Security forces in northern Gaza.

Leaders of both parties appear either to be underground or fleeing the violence. Civilians are stopped in the street by men in black masks, who "recommend" they return to their homes.

The other related news has been Iranian and Hezbollah agents found within the territories. John Robb has written about this point. The Palestinians are learning the de-centralized tactics of Hezbollah. The Isrealis have to be very careful here. News was (a few months back), the Israelis were arming Fatah.

The Israelis either wanted continued chaos in the Territories thinking (I imagine) as long as they are killing each other, they won't be killing us. And/or Fatah could win and Fatah would deal with the Israelis.

The danger in this logic is exactly this Hezbollah-like morph of the Palestinians. If they learn through in-fighting, the techniques of rocket launching, hiding in civilian populations, small groups flexibly able to adapt to the killing of their leaders, kidnapping for ransom, open-source warfare, then the Israelis might find their own weapons being used against them.

tags technorati :

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