November 12, 2007

Hamas Continues Its Governing Strategy By Shooting Into Crowds

The last we looked in on Gaza, Hamas complained about the increasing "terrorism" of open protests in the territory they took by force earlier this year. Today they apparently devised their own solution to this threat to peace in the Palestinian area -- by shooting into a crowd, killing six and wounding 130 in the ensuing stampede:

Six people were killed after Hamas-controlled police opened fire on a Fatah rally in Gaza City today in some of the worst violence seen since the Islamist movement took control of the Gaza Strip five months ago. ....

But the sight of a yelling mob waving posters depicting the Fatah founder and shouting insults against Hamas was always going to risk provoking the heavily armed members of Hamas's "executive force" who were recently renamed as police.

At one point the crowd began to shout "Shi'ite, Shi'ite" as an insult against Hamas which enjoys strong links with the Shia Islamic republic in Iran. Palestinians belong to the rival Sunni sect of Islam.

It is not clear if they were fired on first from inside the crowd but it is known that six members of the crowd died and at least 130 were wounded, mostly from injuries suffered in the resulting stampede.

Hamas has proven effective at putting the tactics it used to seize control of Gaza into its governance. After naming their terrorist squads the official police department of Gaza, it used them to kill civilians and start a riot. Hamas has effectively turned Gaza into a terrorist nation, only instead of terrorizing Israelis exclusively, they have to focus on terrorizing Gazans in order to maintain their deathgrip on power.

This latest atrocity has apparently scotched any efforts at reconciliation. Fatah has declared that it will not negotiate with Hamas to restore Palestinian unity. In language that can only be called ironic, they called Hamas "killers and coup-makers ... who do not believe in dialogue but only understand the language of blood and murder."

And Fatah, with its terrorist arm Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, differs in which respect? It's easy to point to Fatah as the victim here and feel that the world should protest their treatment, and we should -- but we should also remember that Fatah has a long history of attacking civilians in its own greed for power. We will try to negotiate with the least extreme of the political movements in the territories, but it's not as if anyone in the mix follows the precepts of Mohandas Gandhi. Fatah is just the least worst option at the moment.


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