08 januar, 2007

Borgerkrigen i Palæstina: Baggrund

Strategypage har en god gennemgang af forholdene bag kulisserne i den arabiske borgerkrig der langsomt starter op i Palæstina.

January 8, 2007: When it comes to Palestinians, Israel prefers the corrupt to the fanatic. Thus Israel is backing Fatah in the civil war with Hamas. Both of these organizations support terrorism against Israel, and the destruction of Israel. But Hamas is more open about it and, worse yet, a closer ally of Iran and al Qaeda. As bad as Fatah is for Israel, Hamas makes Fatah look good by comparison. Until a year ago, Hamas appeared to be a growing menace in Gaza, where 1.4 Palestinians live in an area of 363 square kilometers, but not much of a threat in the West Bank, where 2.4 million Palestinians live in 5,500 square kilometers, and Fatah still was in firm control. Then came the elections a year ago, and Fatah found out that many West Bankers were fed up, and voted for Hamas, and gave Hamas a majority in parliament, and the right to form a new government. Fatah still controlled the presidency, and most of the civil servants (most of whom where in a dozen different security forces). Because Hamas openly supported the destruction of Israel (something Fatah only said in Arabic, while Hamas would say it in Hebrew and English), financial support from Western countries was cut off. The civil servants could not be paid, and that insured that most of them remained loyal to Fatah, or at least not favorably disposed towards Hamas.

Hamas not only had financial problems, but military ones as well. Gaza and the West Bank were physically separated by Israeli territory. Gaza is surrounded by a very effective security fence (no terrorists have ever gotten out of Gaza and into Israel, which is why a similar fence is being built between the West Bank and Israel.) Since Israel withdrew from Gaza sixteen months ago, Palestinians have been able to carry weapons freely, and they do. Most of the 4,000 Palestinian casualties during that period have been in Gaza. In the West Bank, the Israelis still control security, and Hamas supporters rarely carry weapons. When they do, they risk prompt and effective attack by Israeli troops. But the Fatah controlled West Bank security forces can carry weapons, and they use them against Hamas. Fatah plans to try and wipe out Hamas in the West Bank, and weaken it in Gaza.

The Fatah edge in the West Bank has forced Hamas to restrain itself in Gaza. When Hamas gunmen hurt a Fatah supporter in Gaza, Fatah responds by doing the same to a Hamas supporter in the West Bank. All this violence has not been popular, and Fatah believes that if new elections were held now, Fatah would win back control of parliament. Hamas seems to recognize this too, and refuses to go along with new elections. Much violence may ensure before this matter is settled.

While most Palestinians still support the less corrupt Hamas, they also recognize that, while Hamas may be more honest, they are less effective in dealing with the Israelis, and the Western aid donors. Both Israel and the Western charity are the cornerstones of the Palestinian economy, which has collapsed since Fatah and Hamas launched the terror campaign in 2000, and made worse since Hamas came to power. In the meantime, Israel prospers, and their economy grows.

Meanwhile, overnight operations in the West Bank led to the arrest of 21 terrorist suspects. These included members of Fatah and Hamas.

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