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February 6, 2006
Hamas Signals For More Violence

As if its daily pronouncements about refusing to change its goal of Israeli annihilation, Hamas gave a more tangible sign of its support for war against the Israelis yesterday:

Ismail Haniyeh, the front-runner to be the next Palestinian prime minister, appeared yesterday at the graveside of three Fatah militants in what was seen as a signal of continued support for armed resistance.

Mr. Haniyeh postponed a vital trip to Cairo to attend the funerals for the three men, who were killed Saturday night in an Israeli helicopter strike. It is highly unusual for a Hamas leader to attend the funeral of fighters from the rival Fatah movement.

"These killings will increase the citizens' unity, and boost their steadfastness and their resistance against the Zionist occupation," said the Hamas leader, who walked with the cortege amid intermittent gunfire and the blaring martial music in praise of Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Ahmed Hilles, the Fatah secretary-general for the Gaza Strip, stood alongside Mr. Haniyeh as relatives and Fatah gunmen, some wearing masks, shoveled brown clay over the three bodies that had been wrapped in shawls emblazoned with Fatah's emblematic crossed rifles and a hand grenade. Many green Hamas flags were also in evidence.

"The presence of Haniyeh is something strange. We have not seen this before," said Hazem Abu Shanab, a professor of political science at Al Azhar University of Gaza. "I think Hamas did try to send a signal also that they are supporting the Palestinian activists sticking to resistance activity. 'I am so close to you.' "

Now we have Hamas and the martyrdom organization of Fatah making overtures towards each other, with the former's leader attending their funerals now. It demonstrates that the incoming Hamas power structure wants to emphasize the armed struggle aspects of their group and not the diplomatic or even the social-services efforts that Hamas has made. Hamas and Fatah have long been bitter rivals with a similar end goal, but dissimilar motivations. Fatah has operated as a secular movement, more of an ideological group of fanatics that more resembled European communist terror groups that sprang out of the 1960s along with the PLO.

Hamas, on the other hand, has always been Islamist and considers itself more pure -- a feeling borne out by Fatah's managemen of the Palestinian Authority, with its rampant corruption. Hamas also considers Fatah fatally corrupted by its negotiations with the "Zionist entity". All of that leads to Haniyeh's attendance at the funeral yesterday as a singular event, and not to be dismissed lightly for its propaganda value. He helped lead the procession. That was meant to communicate a message to the West, as well as to Fatah members throughout the territories -- Hamas intends to fight and wants all of the martyrdom operations to unite under its banner, or at least under its leadership.

If people still refuse to acknowledge the consequences of this election, it becomes increasingly obvious that the refusal is willful. Hamas has done everything but take out Super Bowl ads announcing its intention to continue making war until the Israelis die or leave. The US and Europe need to cut the Palestinians off from the flow of money as long as these radicals stay in charge.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 6, 2006 6:49 AM

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