August 29, 2007

A House Divided: Palestinians Trapped by Warring Factions

There seems to be little hope for any sort of resolution in the ongoing civil war between the Palestinian Fatah party and its rival, Hamas, which took over the Gaza Strip two months ago.

Hamas is cracking down on Fatah supporters at protests and in the street with beatings and torture, and has banned all demonstrations and even outdoor weddings without prior approval, according to the Telegraph.

Neither Fatah nor Hamas want local residents to hear criticism of their leadership, so Fatah has banned distribution of all Hamas-affiliated newspapers in the West Bank, and Hamas has banned all Fatah-connected papers and radio stations in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian journalists have been caught in the crossfire, and last week announced a series of protests against the violent treatment they have received at the hands of both factions.

One critical voice has been heard — that of Dr. Ghazi Hamad, who resigned this week as spokesman for Hamas.

Dr. Hamad was known to oppose Hamas’ takeover of the strip, which he felt did not accomplish much.

According to sources cited by YNetNews.com, he also believed Hamas should reach out to Fatah for a reconciliation.

One effort at mediation is occurring in the midst of the conflict.

According to the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, Israeli mediators are trying to reconcile the two parties by suggesting that Hamas return the security compounds and civil institutions it took from Fatah in its conquest of in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is reportedly “studying” the options.

It is not clear who, from each side, is involved in the mediation process.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has said he will not negotiate with Hamas until conditions return to the way they were prior to the takeover.

Sources:

“Hamas honeymoon ends with torture”
Telegraph (U.K.), August 26, 2007

“Israelis said to be mediating between Hamas and Fatah”
Ha’aretz, August 26, 2007

“Palestinian journalists protest threats, arrests”
Jerusalem Post, August 26, 2007

“Report: Hamas government spokesman resigns”
YnetNews.com (Israel), August 24, 2007

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