Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bloody Hell

Hamas has issued an ultimatum to Fatah. Surrender in two days or face being destroyed.
Hamas has given Fatah-linked security officers in northern Gaza a two-day ultimatum to lay down their arms, according to a statement sent by text message and announcements made on Hamas-linked radio stations Wednesday.

The gunmen said that if the security forces did not turn over their weapons by 7 p.m. Friday, they would take the weapons by force.

A PA official expressed deep concern over Hamas's success in taking control of several Palestinian security installations. He revealed that Hamas had succeeded in laying its hands on large amounts of weapons belonging to the Fatah-controlled security forces in many parts of the Gaza Strip.
Nope, that doesn't sound like a civil war to me. Fatah's losses in Gaza have meant that Hamas now has access to thousands of more weapons and ammo, much of it supplied originally by the US and the West as part of their efforts to prop up the Palestinian Authority. So, instead of being used to maintain the peace, those same weapons are now going to be used by Hamas in imposing their Islamic vision on Gaza.

While the US media outlets wonder whether Fatah and Hamas are slugging it out in a civil war, or just factional fighting, Palestinians living in Gaza are wondering when the other shoe will drop.

They can't depend on either Fatah or Hamas to provide basic services, and health care is going to be tough considering that both sides are turning hospitals into shooting galleries where lead poisoning might be the cause of death for the doctors, nurses, or patients.

Hamas bombs have killed at least 22 Fatah thugs.

The UN has finally responded to the civil war by scaling back operations, especially after two UN workers were killed in the fighting.

The EU has finally come out with a statement saying that they'd consider patrolling along the Philadelphi corridor between Gaza and Egypt. I doubt that they'd go that far, and it will do little to stem the violence, which has spread to the West Bank and Nablus.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has finally issued a statement on the civil war in Gaza. They've finally noted the ongoing war crimes and human rights violations there.
"These attacks by both Hamas and Fatah constitute brutal assaults on the most fundamental humanitarian principles," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch. "The murder of civilians not engaged in hostilities and the willful killing of captives are war crimes, pure and simple."
HRW also decries the attack on Israel involving a vehicle with bogus journalist insignias as a threat to journalists' health and well being.

Through it all, the Palestinian terrorists have managed to still find time to fire on Israeli forces in Gaza.

Better late than never. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is deeply concerned about the situation in Gaza.
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the resurgence of violence in Gaza, which has reportedly left at least 20 people dead. The intensity of this latest round of fighting and the heightened public rhetoric marks a serious deterioration of the situation, placing the civilian population in Gaza in grave peril, jeopardizing the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and threatening the future of the Palestinian Government and Authority.

The Secretary-General calls for the immediate cessation of all intra-Palestinian violence, including attacks against the Palestinian Authority and its institutions. At this extremely difficult moment for the Palestinian people and their cause, the Secretary-General calls for all parties to give their full support to the efforts of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to restore law and order.
Hey, here's an idea. If the UNRWA had bothered to do its job all along and made sure that terrorist groups couldn't arm and stockpile weapons in the camps, they'd be a whole lot safer.

But if the UN is pinning its hopes for the restoration of peace on Abbas, they've got another thing coming. Abbas doesn't have the power to do anything more than issue worthless statements, which come to think of it, isn't any different than what the UN is able to do to put an end to human rights crises around the world.

What Ban ignores is that Hamas and Fatah are the PA - they're busy going after each other because they're engaging in a civil war.

The fighting continues to spread. Hamas, after consolidating its gains in North Gaza, is now heading to finish off its capture of the rest of Gaza. Central Gaza is now under its sights.
Gunmen also fought for control of high-rise buildings in Gaza City that serve as sniper positions. Six militants died in clashes near the besieged house of a senior Fatah commander in Gaza City, in addition to four killed there Tuesday, Hamas said. Two other people died of wounds sustained in earlier fighting.

A mortar shell hit the home of a deputy Cabinet minister from Hamas in the nearby Shati refugee camp, setting it aflame, security officials said. No one was hurt, and the official was not at home, officials said.

Violence in Gaza between the two factions, which nominally share power in the Palestinian government, has rapidly spiraled toward all-out civil war, with more than 50 reported killed since Monday. Hamas has systematically taken control of security positions in the north and south, apparently leaving the main battle for the strip's security and political nerve center in Gaza City for last.

An announcer on a Hamas radio station said the offensive would proceed to the presidential compound and the national security headquarters in Gaza City.
The Islamic terrorist group is set to take over Gaza completely, and the media is still reluctant to call the situation a civil war, despite the clear signs that Hamas and Fatah are fighting a civil war over the political control over defined geographic territories, and each has the nominal backing and recognition of foreign governments.

Dry Bones has a very cutting cartoon showing exactly how Hamas feels about the situation along with other analysis of the ongoing Palestinian civil war. Meryl Yourish worries about al Qaeda in Gaza, considering that Hamas and al Qaeda have common goals and a terrorist-regime in Gaza would open up a Pandora's Box of trouble for the West.

Others blogging: Powerline, Ed Morrissey, Mere Rhetoric, Blue Crab Boulevard, Wretchard, Memeorandum, Israellycool.

Still others blogging the Palestinian civil war: Pajamas Media and Blog o' Fascists.

The NYT slideshow of the carnage and violence in Gaza is quite illuminating. This photo caught my eye because you see one of the terrorists lining up to take a shot at the journalist taking the photo. This one makes me wonder where they keep all those flags to drape all over the wounded. What's more important? Prompt and competent medical care, or draping the victims with flags?

While the fighting continues in Gaza and has spread to the West Bank, Fatah is trying to claim PA facilities as their own in Jenin.
Militants of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement entered all Palestinian Authority offices in Jenin Wednesday evening, in a show of force against Hamas.

Fighters of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's armed wing were inside the municipality and several ministry branches in the northern West Bank City, declaring them Fatah territory and off-limits to Hamas, al-Aqsa announced.
Elsewhere, Hamas continues its assault against the vestiges of Fatah forces in Gaza City. Hamas continues to engage in war crimes and Fatah forces are jumping ship, blowing their way across the Gaza border into Egypt:
Elsewhere in Gaza City, hundreds of members of the Fatah-allied Bakr clan, who have engaged in fierce battles with Hamas in recent months, surrendered Wednesday to the militants, witnesses said.

The Bakr clan, numbering thousands of people, lives in a seaside neighborhood. Some 200 of the Bakr men are armed militants.

On Wednesday afternoon, Hamas forces entered the area and led hundreds of men, women and children, their hands raised behind their heads, to a nearby mosque, said local resident, Nael Ghoben.

Witnesses reported that after the surrender, two Bakr women tried to leave the area and take a sick girl to a hospital, and were shot on the street by Hamas gunmen.

In a bid to escape the onslaught, Fatah gunmen detonated an explosive device along the Philadelphi route near the Gaza-Egypt border, and fled into Egypt.
If you were protesting the violence in Gaza, you became a target for gunfire. No rubber bullets are included in the ammo being fired by Hamas.
Several hundred tribal leaders, women, children and Islamic Jihad militants turned out in Gaza City for a protest initiated by Egyptian mediators. Some demonstrators scattered after masked Hamas gunmen fired in the air, but others pushed on, carrying Palestinian flags and shouting, "Do not shoot" and "national unity" over a loudspeaker.

Witnesses said Hamas gunmen shot at the protesters as they approached the besieged house of the Fatah commander from the Bakr family in Gaza City, trapping the demonstrators.

Protester Bilal Qurashali said he saw a man get shot in the head. "We are unable to get out. The place is closed," he said.

Health officials said 15 protesters were injured by bullets — five of them in the head — and were brought to the hospital in civilian cars because ambulances couldn't navigate the heavy fire.

Demonstrators had hoped the stature of the tribal leaders leading the protest would protect them, he said.

Separately, Hamas gunmen opened fire from a high-rise building at about 1,000 protesters in the southern town of Khan Younis, injuring one and breaking up the protest. And a Fatah-affiliated officer was shot to death at the National Security compound in the town.
If Israel did such a thing, the level of vitriol and demands for war crimes trials against the IDF would hit hard and fast. Here, not so much.

Truces? We don't need truces, says Hamas. They want the fighting to end alright, but by eliminating Fatah.

MSNBC reports that a Hamas victory would create two Palestines.
A Hamas military victory in Gaza would create a two-headed Palestine — with the Islamic extremists in control in the coastal strip and Western-backed Fatah ruling the West Bank.

It could also set the stage for a bloody confrontation with Israel, and strengthen radical states in the Middle East.

"It's a lose-lose situation for the Palestinians and Israel," said Uzi Dayan, former head of Israel's National Security Council.
No. It wouldn't. Hamas would not be content with Gaza; they want the West Bank and Israel for their own purposes. They'll continue attacking Israel and Fatah, and show that they're willing to take the fight to Fatah in Nablus and elsewhere in the West Bank, which is Fatah's historical power-base.

It's a lose-lose situation for Fatah because they have gotten their clocks cleaned by Hamas, and shouldn't get any Western support because it's clear that they simply can't hold on to power. Fatah is simply a terrorist group that operates with a veneer of diplomacy, and the charade and pretzel logic to deem this the case must cease. Hamas has shown that it has the firepower and willingness to use it - on Fatah, other Palestinians, or Israel.

That's the true threat - Islamists who hold to their words. Take Hamas at its word.

Israel is in the same position it was in before Hamas won the elections last year. Hamas was lobbing rockets then; they lob them now. They sought to destroy Israel then; they seek to destroy Israel now. The only difference is that they've pushed Fatah to the sidelines in a way that the elections never could. Civil war has a way of doing that.

You'd been warned. Weapons handed to the PA would end up in the hands of Hamas. Well, they've got them, and have a Fatah hit-list to go along with it. Expect purges to be forthcoming. To be followed by hits on collaborators and other minor figures. Then, the attacks on the Jews will resume in earnest.

Snapped Shot shows what happens when you have terrorists running amok in Gaza. Civilians are in harm's way at every turn.

Israpundit calls this the opening shots of the summer war. I hope that isn't the case, but all signs point to round two of the war we saw last summer.

Wretchard provides insightful analysis. Read the whole thing.

Pamela at Atlas Shrugs relates an email she received from someone who lives in Gaza, which proves my point about the horrors about to be visited upon those unfortunate enough to be stuck there.

Others blogging: Doug Ross, Neocon Express, and Threats Watch.

A former IDF intel officer warns that Hamastan is all but assured in Gaza, and that Israel may have to take action. He blames Israel for the disengagement leading to the current situation.
“The irresponsible pullout from Gaza allowed Hamas to arm itself with mass amounts of explosives, weapons and funds that flowed into the Strip,” Major-General (res.) Yaacov Amidror told Ynet Wednesday, amid reports that the Islamist group had the upper hand in the fierce clashes with Fatah.
I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinians. They had the opportunity to build a society, and instead chose terrorism and war.

Fatah's had enough of Abbas, and are calling for him to step down. Given his abysmal performance, I can't blame them, but then again, not a single one of the Fatah thugs are worthy of being a dog catcher, let alone the representative of a pseudo-government.

Meanwhile, there are still reports that Abbas and Haniyeh are trying to work out a truce, but we've been there before. It isn't even worth the paper it's written on.

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