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May 18, 2006
Hamas Defies Abbas, Deploys Terrorist Army

Hamas made good on its threat to field its own armed force in Gaza, defying Mahmoud Abbas and his presidential veto of their militia. Abbas responded by sending his own Fatah forces into the streets, setting the stage for a gang war:

The Hamas-led Palestinian government on Wednesday deployed a new security force in the Gaza Strip, a direct challenge to the authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, who last month vetoed the creation of the force.

Mr. Abbas, who has been traveling in Europe this week, responded Wednesday night by ordering a large number of members of the security forces under his command to be placed on the streets in Gaza, Reuters reported.

In another sign of Palestinian infighting, a Hamas militant was killed in a drive-by shooting near Gaza City, the second such killing of a Hamas member in two days. No one claimed responsibility, though Hamas and Mr. Abbas's Fatah movement are waging an increasingly open power struggle.

With Mr. Abbas and the Hamas-led government jockeying for power, control over the security forces is a potentially explosive issue. In theory, the Palestinian president is to share responsibility for the security forces with the prime minister and his cabinet. But Mr. Abbas and Hamas have not been able to agree on their roles, and the developments on Wednesday reflected the mounting tensions.

Last week, Hamas and Fatah supposedly reached an agreement to cease armed hostilities in the Palestinian territories. Their word to each other apparently carries the same weight as their word to outsiders. The appearance of these armed gangs promises to unleash violence on the Palestinian people that may ironically surpass the violence they inflicted on Israelis during two intifadas.

This may wind up teaching the Palestinians the lesson that they have refused to acknowledge from their diplomatic isolation. Electing terrorists to govern only amplifies the violence, first externally and then eventually internally. Terrorists are not known for their democratic impulses, and they don't cotton to hearing "no". They tend to start shooting and bombing people until they hear "yes" or until someone else kills them. The Palestinians chose this as their government, and they will soon get exactly what they intended for others.

UPDATE: And it's already begun. Hamas gunmen have started battling Fatah-dominated Palestinian police forces today:

Palestinian police fought gunbattles in Gaza City on Friday with a new Hamas-led security force set up by the Islamist government in defiance of President Mahmoud Abbas.

At least four people were wounded in the first fighting since Hamas deployed the force on Wednesday. Two police, one Hamas member and a gunman from Abbas's Fatah movement were hurt.

Clashes sent terrified residents fleeing from the night-time streets of Gaza City, where tension has soared amid fears of civil war. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the emergence of rival security forces a "dangerous situation."

Members of the Hamas force, mostly bearded young militants who fought Israel in an uprising for years, surrounded the main police station in Gaza City and traded fire with security men taking cover inside.

Hamas isn't looking to supplant the security forces of the Palestinian Authority; they're looking for war.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 18, 2006 8:39 PM

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» Hamas vs. Fatah from The Other Corner
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» Civil War in Palestine from Dean's World

This is what "civil war" means to most of us--parts of the government outright defying and shooting at other parts of the government.

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Tracked on May 20, 2006 2:52 AM


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