Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Gaza Again [UPDATE]

Martin Peretz writing in The New Republic on Gaza:

The withdrawal from Gaza by Israel was supposed to be a test. OK, not of everything but of something. Take your pick. That the hudna (ceasefire) would hold. It didn't. Islamic Jihad hadn't even signed on to the contract. It carried out several successful terrorist attacks and day in, day out launched rockets from Gaza deeper and deeper into pre-1967 Israel. But, in a way, even more serious is the fact that the most protracted war by Qassam projectiles was waged by armed elements of Fatah, the P.A. president's own political party. What about security undertakings with regard to Gaza's border with Egypt? Again a failure. Weapons and terrorists have surged, not seeped, through the frontier that is also "guaranteed" by various European well-wishers. Is there elemental public order on the streets? Not at all. What about the assumption that there would be sufficient pressure from the Palestinian public for the P.A. to feel obliged to take control of the streets? Not enough pressure or not enough will to take control. The P.A. is still the most heavily armed force in Gaza. No matter: Militias battle police, police battle other police, gangs brawl with other gangs; there are revenge killings, aimless killings, kidnappings, bombings, clubbings, mutilations, some pointless, some unmistakably pointed. Chaos rules in Gaza, utter mayhem. "It appears as if Gaza has degenerated into anarchy," explains CNN. There has been a steady outflow of pro-Palestinian NGO personnel from the Strip, some out of panic, some from a realization that the Palestinian revolution, so called, is animated by bloodlust. According to The Times of London, one British aid worker who was recently held hostage by gunmen for three days told her kidnappers, "I came to work with these people and I feel like I've been stabbed in the back." Is this the future of Palestine?
Like many others, I'm wondering how long it will take until a full Gaza meltdown occurs. Between the daily Qassams, reaching closer and closer to important targets along the Israeli coastline, such as the oil refineries in Ashqelon and the improved weapons technology brought in with the help of Al Qaeda sympathizers from Sinai - It seems to me that Gaza and Iran are both going to be become open fronts in the GWOT in the coming year.

And then there is this must-read report on corruption in the PA and Gaza from Palestinian Arab Muslim, Khaled Abu Toameh.

Gaza today is controlled by armed militias. The Palestinian Authority pays the salaries, but the gunmen control the streets. You don't know who's hiding behind the mask in Gaza. A hundred and fifty gunmen can surround a house and snatch a general from his home in his pajamas and shoot him in the street just outside Abu Mazen's office, and no one saw anything and there is not even one eyewitness. It's a very dangerous situation. Abu Mazen has not done anything - and I don't even think he can - to stop this phenomenon. Almost every second person in Gaza has a gun, and this has created a very frightening situation.

The worsening chaos and lawlessness also prevents potential investors from putting their money into Gaza. Palestinian businessmen abroad will not put money into an area where there is no rule of law. In my view, this is the number one issue on the Palestinian agenda these days. Abu Mazen ran on a platform that clearly said: "I am going to fight corruption, anarchy, and lawlessness." One year later, the situation has not changed....


The young guard is rushing to take over. Many members of the old guard are leaving the country, moving to Arab states, because they are afraid of the young guard. Abu Mazen is sending signals of weakness. His policy is based on trying to appease everyone - Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, the old guard, the young guard, Israel, America, the Arab states - and that's impossible. It's not going to work.

Fatah and the Palestinian security forces are first and foremost responsible for the anarchy and lawlessness. The Palestinian security forces were never real security forces; they were, and some of them still are, functioning as private militias. According to figures released by the Palestinian Interior Ministry, Fatah and the Palestinian security forces were involved in most of the incidents of violence in the Gaza Strip in the first nine months of 2005.

[ Hat tip on the second source: Normblog ]


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