The latest cease-fire between Palestinian factions has collapsed almost before it got announced as Gaza slides into an all-out civil war. Refugees have begun to flee to Egypt, and Hamas-controlled mosques now serve as broadcast stations for war announcements:
Palestinian infighting, almost daily Israeli air strikes, and a steadily worsening economic situation triggered by an international aid boycott has made life unbearable for many Palestinians. Those who can are leaving.
European Union monitors at the Rafah border crossing from the Gaza Strip to Egypt say that more than 14,000 Palestinians have fled Gaza since Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers in 2005 and the rise to power of the Islamist Hamas five months later. In the past year alone, the average number of people leaving Gaza per day has doubled from 15 to 30.
The rising number of Palestinians seeking to emigrate has prompted Jerusalem's Mufti, Mohammad Ahmed Hussein, to issue a fatwa prohibiting Palestinians from leaving Palestinian territories.
"Immigration from this blessed land is not permissible according to Islamic law," said the religious edict. "People who live in this land should not leave it for the invaders and occupiers."
That's a sure sign of desperation. Imams now forbid movement of Palestinians even to other "blessed" lands, such as Muslim Egypt. Why? They know that if the Palestinians leave Gaza in droves, it will leave terrorist groups like Hamas, Fatah, and Islamic Jihad much more exposed to Israeli strikes.
The imams want their congregations to continue their roles as human shields so that terrorists can conduct holy wars. Isn't that special? No wonder they call Islam the Religion of Peace.
It won't matter. Palestinians in Gaza have seen their one opportunity to create a protostate, free from occupation, utterly collapse. They won't stick around to starve or to get killed in the crossfire. Those with means will leave, to Egypt first and perhaps later to Jordan.
And if the imams haven't covered themselves in enough blood already, now they're announcing attacks from the minarets:
Militants from the armed wing of Hamas have threatened attacks on security positions in Gaza belonging to Palestinian rivals Fatah, reports say.
Hamas-run mosques in Gaza City gave Fatah fighters two hours to leave their positions.
The civil war is already on. Both sides have attacked each other's leadership. Every round of diplomacy creates another cease-fire, which lasts as long as it takes to restock the ammunition. Ordinary Palestinians, who created this situation by supporting Hamas in their last elections, have no way to put an end to the fighting themselves, and the Israelis have learned not to do anything other than target terrorists who target Israel.
Let Gaza collapse. We can't stop it anyway, and our efforts to intercede will by definition leave terrorists stronger in the region. Only when Palestinians tire of bloodshed will it end.