Fifth column, traitors, collaborators - this is what Hamas spokesmen call those whom they hold responsible for the civil war in the Gaza Strip. They point to a 'treacherous stream in the Fatah movement,' warning that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is 'incapable of taking control of it.' They are referring to Mohammed Dahlan and his associates.
Abbas' associates have a similar argument: A subversive stream in Hamas is revolting against the PA's legitimate institutions, they say.
Each side accuses the other's 'treacherous stream' of being the puppet of foreign powers that dictate its actions. Iran and Islamic fundamentalists are cited as the influence driving Hamas, while the United States and Israel are said to be behind Fatah....
Ironically, there is a grain of truth in both sides' accusations.
As the number of people murdered and wounded in the internecine Palestinian fighting increases by the hour, and the fear grows that the fighting will spill over into the West Bank, it is hard to see that the two sides are mirror images. Both camps are turning all civilians into hostages, and sentencing them to death in their street fights, sacrificing the struggle for Palestinian liberation on the altar of their rivalry....
As Fatah's mirror image, the Hamas government announced it cannot pay civil servants' wages. But it has found ways to finance the large amount of weapons being smuggled into the Gaza Strip and purchased in the West Bank.
Now it will have full "military" control of the Gaza Strip. Will this bring relief to Gaza's 1.4 million residents? Will it improve the health system and ensure employment for university graduates? Will it remove Israel's land and sea blockade?
It may be assumed that the military takeover of Abbas' symbols of "sovereignty" will serve as an excuse for Israel to sever once and for all the remaining civilian and economic ties between the Gaza Strip and West Bank - a political process Israel started in 1991. Because Hamas, like its mirror image Fatah, has no coherent liberation or independence plan for Palestinians in this lifetime.
Amira Hass (of Haaretz) is probably the (Jewish) Israeli reporter most knowledgeable about (and sympathetic to)conditions in the Palestinian territories, and among the most critical (from a left perspective) of Israeli government policies toward the Palestinians.