The Fatah-Hamas rift deepens

While the Israel-Hamas war has come to a inconclusive end, the ongoing Palestinian civil war shows no sign of abating. There had been some thought that the Israeli offensive in Gaza could lead Hamas and Fatah to find a common cause against their shared enemy. Instead, suspicion between the two factions appears to be at ...

589364_090121_hamas5.jpg
589364_090121_hamas5.jpg

While the Israel-Hamas war has come to a inconclusive end, the ongoing Palestinian civil war shows no sign of abating. There had been some thought that the Israeli offensive in Gaza could lead Hamas and Fatah to find a common cause against their shared enemy. Instead, suspicion between the two factions appears to be at an all-time high.

Over the weekend, Hamas accused Palestinian Authority President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas of playing a "major role" in the assassination of Hamas Interior Minister Said Siam, through filtering intelligence from Fatah agents on the ground to the Israeli military. In response, Fatah members accused one of Siam's bodyguards of passing on his location to Israel. "Hamas is full of spies and corrupt people who are prepared to do anything in return for a few hundred shekels," said one Fatah spokesman, by way of explanation.

But this is more than a war of words. Fatah members are also accusing Hamas of killing and torturing its members in Gaza, in a bid to prevent them from returning to power. Fatah has accused Hamas of detaining "hundreds" of Fatah activists, and killing or wounding another hundred in the crackdown. A Hamas spokesman confirmed today that their internal security forces was ordered "to track collaborators and hit them hard," and that they had already arrested dozens.

While the Israel-Hamas war has come to a inconclusive end, the ongoing Palestinian civil war shows no sign of abating. There had been some thought that the Israeli offensive in Gaza could lead Hamas and Fatah to find a common cause against their shared enemy. Instead, suspicion between the two factions appears to be at an all-time high.

Over the weekend, Hamas accused Palestinian Authority President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas of playing a “major role” in the assassination of Hamas Interior Minister Said Siam, through filtering intelligence from Fatah agents on the ground to the Israeli military. In response, Fatah members accused one of Siam’s bodyguards of passing on his location to Israel. “Hamas is full of spies and corrupt people who are prepared to do anything in return for a few hundred shekels,” said one Fatah spokesman, by way of explanation.

But this is more than a war of words. Fatah members are also accusing Hamas of killing and torturing its members in Gaza, in a bid to prevent them from returning to power. Fatah has accused Hamas of detaining “hundreds” of Fatah activists, and killing or wounding another hundred in the crackdown. A Hamas spokesman confirmed today that their internal security forces was ordered “to track collaborators and hit them hard,” and that they had already arrested dozens.

In the aftermath of the war, Fatah and Hamas are already fighting over who will distribute humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Hamas is preventing Fatah activists from playing a role in the rebuilding of Gaza, and recently hijacked 12 trucks full of aid donated by the Jordanian government, meant for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

The weakening of Hamas’s hold on Gaza was the hoped-for result of Israel’s offensive. But if Hamas still maintains a firm hold on the distribution of aid, and can still arrest and kill Fatah members at will, the odds of regime change in Gaza remain dim.

Photo: Abid Katib/Getty Images

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