Thursday, January 11, 2007
By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
"In a symbolic show of unity, a number of Hamas and Fatah lawmakers marched through downtown Hebron Monday, assuring townspeople and reporters of their determination to prevent factional strife from spreading to the Hebron district, the most populous in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The march came as local political and civic leaders were calling for speedy and concerted measures to forestall any possible occurrence of factional violence between Hamas and Fatah in the city and numerous surrounding towns and villages.
Taking part in the march were Hatem Qafisha and Samira Halayqa from Hamas and Akram Haymoni and Sahar Qawasmi from Fatah in addition to local Islamic and nationalist leaders and public figures.
"This district (Hebron) can't bear the occurrence of violence or civil war, this should be clear to all people here," said Akram Haymoni.
He told reporters that both Hamas and Fatah were sending out a clear message that "we are one people and that we will not allow political differences to turn into violence between the brothers."
"What binds us together is far greater than that which would keep us apart. Yes, we might sincerely and thoughtfully have different political views, but these differences should never ever be allowed to create a violent dichotomy between us."
The same message was echoed by Hatem Qafisha of Hamas who called "on every true Palestinian" to say a "clarion No" to inter-factional strife and civil war.
"We must stand united against the ominous specter of violence and civil war with all our strength. We know for sure that faceless Israeli agents are being mobilized in full in order to incite Palestinians one against the other. We must be vigilant and not allow our enemies to make us kill ourselves with our own hands."
Ahmed Tamimi, a former Director-General of the Interior Ministry, said "civil war in Hebron, God forbid, would consume everything and turn clan against clan, family against family and even brother against brother."
"We must send a clear and unmistakable message to both [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas and [Prime Minister Ismael] Haniya that they must sit down immediately and put an end to this disgrace.
"They must sit down for as long as it takes to overcome this problem and eliminate once and for all the prospects of civil war between the brothers."
Tamimi also spoke of the existence of a "third column," an allusion to Israeli collaborators and agents working "day and night" to fan the flames of civil war among Palestinians.
Tamimi said it was a foregone conclusion that Israel, through its agents and collaborators, was doing all it could to get Fatah and Hamas to fight and kill each other.
"They would instruct their agents to assault or shoot this or that figure from Hamas and Fatah and then the two sides, because of the mutual mistrust, would think that the other side perpetrated the attack. Hence, we would end up facing a vicious cycle of action and reaction while the Israelis are watching gleefully as we kill and attack each other."
Meanwhile, civic leaders in the Hebron region have called for a one-day conference aimed at giving local society more immunity against the prospect of inter-factional fighting.
According to organizers, dozens of clan leaders as well as public figures will participate in the conference which is expected to take place this week.
The conference is expected to adopt a "document of honor" that would treat any attack or assault by any Palestinian against any other Palestinian because of his political affiliation as an "act of treachery against God, His messenger, and the Palestinian people."
The document would also stipulate that violators would be expelled by their factions and clans and held fully responsible for their actions.
"The killer himself and his immediate family (not Hamas or Fatah) would be fully responsible for any crime," said one clan notable from Dura. "