Saturday, April 22, 2006

Hamas v. Fateh : round 1 (or as my friend says, "Beirut, baby"

I’m writing this and in pitch darkness. Not due to artillery shells, from which we’ve been spared for a whole of 24 hours. But because the friendly folks of al-Aqsa Martrys (or as I like to call them, my friendly neighborhood gunmen) shot our neighborhood’s electricity cables by accident this evening, after hoisting their flag on the now Hamas-dominated Legislative Council in front of my house in protest of recent Hamas statements (someone needs target practice. Then again, better the cable than me.

Last night, they also decide to hold a pre-dawn bash, smack dab in the middle of the city (deciding to "avoid areas populated by Hamas), which continued until the wee hours of the morning.

Of course the protests were dumb, but even dumber perhaps were Khalid Mishal’s statements-no matter how true they rang- to which the “protests” were a response.

The Hamas political head in Syria, known for his inflammatory rhetoric, made verbal jabs at Fateh and Mahmud Abbas, blaming them for the state of financial ruin that the PA is currently in, among other things, and said Hamas would not stand for Abbas’s decisions to annul the new security branch created by the Ministry of Interior yesterday.

Meshal said, roughly:

“We can understand Israel and America persecuting us, and seeking ways to besiege and starve us, but not the sons of our people who are plotting against us, who are following a carefully laid out plan to make us fail. Today is not the time to expose them, but the day will come soon when we will reveal to all the truth in detail about all they have done.”

Meshal also noted that is was not long ago when Abbas himself resigned over this very issue-when Arafat would not cede his control over the most important security branches to a then PM Abbas.

As he was speaking on Aljazeera, and as people cheered him on in the audience, Mahmud Zahar, who was in attendance, remained quiet, as if to say-“no, no Meshal! Not the time or place!”

Fateh of course wouldn’t have it, immediately issuing a condemnatory statement through their revolutionary council accusing Meshal of “igniting a civil war” by calling Abbas a traitor (Meshal never mentioned Abbas by name, but made veiled references. He later apologized and said he was misunderstood, calling for dialogue).

But it wasn’t long before young Fateh cadres, Fateh shabeeba as they are called here-hardcore supporters of Mohammad Dahalan (who helped found the movement as in 1981) took to the streets in wild protest, along with hooligans looking for “fun” and any chance to lash out at Hamas, shooting belt after belt with automatic weapons, and keeping me awake a good part of the night (not to mention disrupting a really good chapter in the book I was reading).

As my cousin noted, “young people here are so bored, you have no idea. These are a bunch of young shabab with nothing better to do. They are a small contingent of Fateh looking for any opportunity to lash out at Hamas” -whom they hate more, some have confessed to me, “more than the Israeli occupation itself”.

Today, the clashes spilled over into the rival universities of Al-Azhar (Fateh run) and al-Islamiya (Islamic University, run by Hamas). Apparently, the Fateh student council in al-Islamiya, and later, Al-Azhar students, both plastered the pristine walls of al-Islamiya with condemnatory and accusatory flyers. Push came to shove (quite literally), and though it did not get fatal and weapons were not involved, around 15 people were injured in fistfights, stone throwing, and firebombs.

Amidst the madness, a lone vendor roamed around the angry crowds selling licorice juice to thirsty stone-throwers (honestly, only in Palestine...). All that was missing, joked my cousin, was a kiosk selling souvenirs-perhaps t-shirts and hats stating “anti-Hamas protests 2006-I was there!” I’m sure the local PLO flag shop could make some big bucks.

According to my cousin, it’s not all bad. The university (she attends al-Azhar, the only university at the time of her enrollment that taught IT) is now on strike for 3 days-which means time-off to study for exam. “Catastrophes for some, benefit for others” she smiled.

We argued about where this could lead to, theoretically

“They would never be able to plan a civil war, they aren’t up to it.” She says we’ve gotten accustomed to living without law and order-that we don’t like anyone to rule us, whether its Israel, Mahmud Abbas or Hamas. “People take it very personally, they just don’t like anyone telling them what to do. Everybody wants to rule themselves.” She thinks a third-party needs to intervene to keep the order at this time, like the Egyptians.

I tend to agree that this would not spill over into civil war for a variety of reasons-(though sometimes it’s not difficult to how it could when there is as much negative energy as I saw today, with so much anger and emotion in such a confined space...think: hamsters crowded in a cage.) I think the one thing stopping this from happening is even when Hamas-supporters do engage Fateh shabeeba, thing usually are stopped from escalating by the higher echelons of Hamas-who instruct their supporters to stay quiet and indoors and not all prey to “Fateh provocations”, as they have tonight. As they say, it takes two to tango.

For now, the streets are calm once again, Yousuf is sound asleep....and looks like the electricty just came back on. So I think I'll continue reading my book while its quiet...


Blogger الفلسطينية said...

Hi Laila

i dunno for me i find it hard to imagine someone that hates hamas/fateh more than the occupation. i really hope we dont slide into a civil war- its the last thing we need, and it would not benefit anyone but israel. i pray that fateh realizes this and supports the new gov.

How is Yousuf?

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Khalid Meshal said was not necssary.
Let Hamas start working and if they want
to protest against corruption.

Let them send the proofs and albis to court.
The whole corruption deal should be sent to court.
I hope Meshal and other hamas officials learned from this.

Anyone else annoyed by Abbas.Whats with funny expressions

HE was unusually angry.

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ususaaly angry was refering to


12:01 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

I think Meshal speeches never been but factious, if he really interested in working for his people, then he should shut his mouth up and work hard with the moderate Hamas leaders, we all know the corruption in Fateh, but this doesn't mean we forget about our only enemy and start looking for who stole the chairs and the sofas... By working hard and sincerely Hamas will overcome all the obstacles implanted in their way. I listened to most of Mishal speech and I found he did not only blacken the Fateh and Abbas standing, but he did mention that some of the neighboring Arab countries are also part of the plot against the government and of course here he means Jordan when they refused to meet with FA minister Zahar; this kind of inflammatory speeches bring more hardship and put more burden on the new government that is trying nights and days to find a way out of the siege put by Israel, U.S. and EU. I think the Palestinian government and the whole Palestinian people that this Government is for the Palestine not for Hamas, Mishal should not be treated as part of this government, and the government should not be held responsible for whatever he or Abu Marzouq or other Hamas top leaders say. Fateh and Shabeeba should start act as mature party, not a party that is driven by rioters here and there, it’s really ugly to see everytime youngsters and rioters go and vandalize the properties of the PALESTINIAN people not Hamas, every time something happens, they go for the PLC building and burn the cars as if these cars and buildings are registered for Hamas ministers!... When we will get rid of this naivety..

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tou 100% right


2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sami, you have a good point! I think as well, Kahled Mesh'al overdid it this time! ALL factions will have to find a way to work together, only this way they they will be able to tackle the obstacles! They should work FOR PALESTINE - and not against one another!

4:23 PM  
Blogger Anne Rettenberg LCSW said...

Who exactly are these young men, and where do they live? Are they living with their parents--in which case their parents are condoning this behavior--or are they married men--which would be hard to believe because how could a woman tolerate her husband rioting in the streets? Are they living on their own--I thought few people in Palestine did that...

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish they would stop firing into the air (or anywhere, of course). What goes up must come down. I have heard of people being injured and killed by these cloud-shooting antics. I notice they never shoot aiming directly overhead.


5:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elizabeth- if only the men would listen to the women.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know why you expect the West to fund a Hamas goverment. Is their ideology anything close to the West? It is all right to be elected into power, it is whatever one does with it that matters. Plenty of goverments today are elected and then mis use their power. The EU and the US may do with their money as they wish, What obligates them to support Hamas especially when they disagree with their policies. Nothing. Helping the ordinary people is one thing, funding a goverment policy is another.

Someone here said it was a "Seige" policy to force them to do their bidding. Maybe so, but you cant seriously expect to have your cake (act as you wish) and eat it (get lots of money for it from people, who disagree with what you are doing, in order to do it) Where is the honour in that?

Your goverment has a idenity crisis. Wilson

4:09 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

While I admit I know little about the situation in your little corner of the world, I can say this without any doubt of being right.

Your grandparents and theirs, you and your children have been raised in a world without law, without hope and without peace.

That has resulted in a people that have not ever known the basic three things that people want, need and must have.

As said, by my forefathers:

"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

I don't know how you will ever arrive there, but I hope that it does happen and happen within your lifetime.

But, you have regressed into a people that know not where they are, and do not seem to know what they want or where they want to be.

Without a doubt, the Middle East doesn't want you, Israel doesn't want you and the hate is turning inward toward yourselves.

God Bless and keep you safe, as he is the only one who loves you.

Papa Ray
West Texas

8:08 PM  

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