Our worst fears expressed in these columns a couple of days ago have come true as the violence in Gaza Strip has claimed more lives. Hamas fighters have taken over the seaside office complex of President Mahmoud Abbas and captured the entire security infrastructure of Fatah. Several captured Fatah men were summarily executed in the streets through which other captured Fatah fighters were marched, shirtless, with hands raised.
These developments clearly show that the situation is getting out of control. Although Hamas has granted amnesty to Fatah leaders in the hope that Fatah would be motivated to forget its public humiliation and agree to reconcile with Hamas in the interest of national unity, chances of reconciliation between the two groups are slim.
On his part President Abbas has dismissed the Hamas government and its prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and declared a state of emergency. Abbas has named Salam Fayyad, an independent, the prime minister replacing Haniyeh. Understandably, the United States and European Union have declared support for Abbas.
Hamas has declared that its police would now control Gaza’s crossings with Israel and Egypt, but it is certainly mistaken if it really believes what it says. It is obvious that Israel would never allow it to do that, and even the Egyptians may not oblige, because they cannot go against the US, European Union and Israel.
We have been warning since well before the Makkah accord that Palestinians would be better advised not to fight among themselves. Today the Makkah accord lies tattered, and with that Saudi prestige too has been seriously compromised.
It is almost certain that Fatah would not take it lying down. Fatah controls the West Bank, which is more populous with nearly 2 million residents than Hamas controlled Gaza, which has nearly 1.5 million residents. Abbas’s permanent office is in Ramallah in West Bank, which has better ties with the West and Israel.
Because Fatah recognises Israel and all prior Palestinian-Israeli agreements, it is likely that Israeli and Western boycott of Palestinian Authority will now be limited to Gaza alone. That means Hamas has brought greater hardships on Gaza Palestinians.
It is too late in the day for any remedial action. However, let us hope and pray that good sense prevails in Palestine and the Makkah accord is somehow salvaged.g
Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam