Tuesday, June 26, 2007
On the run: Nabuls councilwoman Khouloud el-Masri looks through her women's center, destroyed by Fatah gunmen.
Contributed by Lucia
"Nablus, West Bank - Khouloud el-Masri insists her al-Juthur cultural center was nothing more than a place for teaching women.
But gunmen loyal to Fatah dismissed it as a cover for Hamas indoctrination. They set it on fire at the height of the fighting in Gaza two weeks ago between the Palestinian factions. The center was destroyed and the blaze nearly sent the building where Mrs. Masri lives with her husband and five children up in smoke.
Now, Masri, an elected councilmember and one of the most prominent female faces of Hamas's political wing in the West Bank, is living on the run. She sleeps in a different house every night, taking a few of the kids with her, while her husband takes the remainder elsewhere.
Of Nablus's 15 city council members, 13 are members of Hamas, or, as the group called itself at the polls, the Change and Reform Party. Both the mayor and deputy mayor, also from Hamas, were arrested by Israel about a month ago. And now, nearly everyone who was elected in a 2004 municipal vote to run this city is persona non grata not just to Israel but to the Fatah-run Palestinian emergency government set up by Mahmoud Abbas.
But how Mr. Abbas decides to deal with Hamas elements in the West Bank will be key to future stability and governance in this Palestinian territory. And from the remnants in Masri's center to the hide-outs of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant offshoot of Fatah, there is a pervasive sense that the Hamas coup in Gaza was not the end to a violent chapter of internecine Palestinian warfare....."