Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fanning the flames in Gaza

The US is arming Fatah in the hope of defeating Hamas. Meanwhile, everyone suffers

Laila El-Haddad

The Guardian

".....Fatah called for a general strike, and has taken to shooting into the air to scare people off the streets, stopping cars at self-imposed checkpoints, and detaining men with beards, in response to what they say was a deadly Hamas ambush of the presidential guard (Hamas has denied involvement saying their military forces were there re-enforcing their defenses on the border for fear of a possible Israeli attack, and hospital sources say the shrapnel is Israeli, not Palestinian, in origin). Israel has claimed responsiblity for the death of at least two of the Fatah guards. But by that point, it didn't matter anymore. The revenge machine was already in high-gear. In some locations, angry Palestinians reportedly pelted rocks at jeeps belonging to the presidential guard.....

But the news that really upset many here was word of the Israeli government briefly opening the Rafah crossing with Egypt, which it has shut down 50% of the year to average residents here, to allow US-funded, Jordanian-trained, Fatah reinforcements (450 members of the elite Badr Brigade) inside......

In his meetings with a group of Palestinian businessmen last January, Abrams said the US had to support Fatah with guns, ammunition and training, so that they could fight Hamas for control of the Palestinian government. And just over a week ago, a 16-page secret American document was leaked to a Jordanian newspaper outlining an action plan for undermining and replacing the Palestinian national-unity government. The document outlines steps for building up Abbas and his security forces, leading to the dissolution of the parliament, a strengthening of US allies in Fatah in the lead-up to new elections......

The US has allocated as much as $84 million to this end, directly funding president Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan and their security forces, which are often one and the same as the Fatah militias engaged in bitter battles with Hamas and even firing missiles at Israel.

That doesn't change the bitter resentment in the streets over what has unfolded, and the utter cynicism associated with it....."

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