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EYEBALL TO EYEBALL IN GAZA

Brig. Gen. (res.) Harari: The Internal Palestinian Violence In Gaza Is One Battle In A War For Control

The Hamas-Fatah Confrontation Is Likely To Get Worse Before It Gets Better

Palestinian Pundits & Media Are Warning Of Civil War

Palestinian Terrorists

The armed confrontation between Hamas and Fatah erupted in several bloody clashes this week. It has all the signs of an internal power-struggle with neither side apparently ready to give in after Fatah lost control to Hamas in the recent election. Shalom Harari, a leading Israeli analyst on the Palestinians discusses various aspects and the outlook in an interview with IsraCast's David Essing.

'The internal Palestinian violence is likely to get worse before it gets better'. That's the assessment of Brig. Gen. (res.) Shalom Harari. The current bloody clash in the Gaza Strip is but one battle in a war over who controls the Palestinian Street and security forces. President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) leads the camp of Fatah which lost the election in 2005 to the Islamist Hamas that is headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. This week's deterioration was sparked by Haniyeh's setting up a Hamas police force which Abbas declared illegal. The president still controls the 65,000 security apparatus that remains loyal to him. Abbas ordered the Hamas militia to return to its bases but they refuse. This Hamas unit has already clashed with the Abbas forces and the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation continues. Although the Palestinians are talking about a national dialogue to resolve the crisis, Harari believes the situation will be resolved 'in the streets'. Moreover, Palestinian spokesmen and media are warning about a full-blown civil war. It recalls Yasser Arafat's unique reference to ' a democracy of rifles'.

Arafat's terrorist paymaster Fuad Shubaki has revealed how the late Palestinian channeled millions of dollars of international aid to buy explosives and weapons for the terrorists. Could this happen again if the flow of money is resumed to the Palestinian Authority. Harari says although Abbas is not Arafat, who built a corrupt system, there is still no effective solution to prevent money going for terrorism. Although the Palestinians are trying to blame Israel for the current chaos in Gaza, Harari notes there is not one Israeli soldier or settlement in Gaza today. Abbas has reportedly spoken of the possibility of toppling the Hamas government and negotiating the Roadmap with Israel. Is there a real possibility that the international pressure and cutoff of foreign funding will sway Palestinian public opinion to topple Hamas? Harari replies: 'Don't be so sure'. The analyst who has studied the Palestinians for more than twenty years does not see a strong Palestinian leader who can cut a compromise agreement with Israel. In his view, it could take years before there is one.

David Essing

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