AVOID MUSLIM PALESTINE
By William John Hagan
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Over two thousand years ago, in a town called Bethlehem, the first Christmas was celebrated with the birth of Jesus Christ. On that most holy of nights, a small group of people became the first Christians through the celebration of Christ’s virgin birth. It goes without saying that for a Christmas celebration to occur, the presence of a Christian people is a prerequisite. While Bethlehem, and much of the modern de facto state of Palestine, is the birth place of Christianity, it is also a land where Christianity is dying at the hands of a barbaric regime known as the Palestinian Authority.
The population of Bethlehem was at one time over 90% Christian. Today, as a direct result of persecution, their numbers have dropped to below 25%. Today, less then 2% of the population in Palestine are Christian compared to over 20% in 1948. Various official and unofficial tactics have been used throughout Palestine to force the Christian population to flee to Israel. Economic discrimination is one of the frontline devices used by the Palestinians to destroy the Christians. One popular form of discrimination is the practice of hiring less qualified Muslims over more qualified Christians for official positions. This practice is particularly widespread in the public school system where the Muslim majority would rather have their children being taught by fellow Muslims. A more devastating practice is the unofficial boycott of Christian-owned businesses by the Muslim population of the West Bank. When 98% of the population refuses to do business with you because of your belief in Jesus Christ, it makes it almost impossible for Palestine’s Christians to make a living.
Despite the economic persecution of Palestine’s Christians, Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh has invited Christians, world wide, to come to his city to celebrate the Christmas Holiday. The cynical reason for his invitation is not an olive branch to the Christian community but economic gain for the Palestinian people. Batarseh explained that, ""our great city of Bethlehem…depends upon tourism and pilgrimage for its economic survival". His message is a simple one. Christians are welcome to visit Palestine and spend their money; they are just not welcome to live there.
In addition to economic oppression, Palestinian Christians face a far greater threat in the form of violence from their Islamic neighbors. The worst recent example of such violence has taken place in Palestine’s only all Christian town of Taybeh. In what has been described as a pogrom against the town’s 1,500 Christians, a group of Muslim youths from the neighboring village of Dair Jarir carried out a two-day assault on Taybeh. According to a report by Daniel Pipes in the Gamla Intelligence Newsletter, the Muslims "broke into houses and stole furniture, jewelry, and electrical appliances. They threw Molotov cocktails at some buildings and poured kerosene on others then torched them. The damage included at least 16 houses, some stores, a farm, and a gas station. The assailants vandalized cars, looted extensively, and destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary." "It was like a war," one Taybeh resident told the Jerusalem Post. Hours passed before the Palestinian Authority security and fire services arrived. Fifteen of the Muslim attackers, who were arrested, spent only a few hours in police detention and then were released.
Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Catholic Custodian of the Holy Land, reports that Christians in the Bethlehem region alone have suffered 93 cases of injustice. One such case was the murder of two teenage sisters from the Christian Amre family at the hands of Muslims. The children were shot by their Islamic attackers and they had been tortured by having lit cigarettes applied to their genitals before they were executed.
Despite daily reports of alleged abuse of Palestinian Muslims in the mainstream media, the newspapers of the Western World have turned a blind eye to the violence and persecution that their fellow Christians and Jews are today suffering at the hands of the Palestinians, whom they attempt to portray as victims. This Christmas, as we celebrate in the comfort of our homes and churches, it would be more than fitting to remember the Christians who are dying for their faith, in the birth place of Christ.
William John Hagan is a columnist for the Canada Free Press. His work has appeared in the Providence Journal, the Houston Home Journal, Freedom Today Magazine (UK), and World Net Daily.
by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
December 13, 2005
There is a right way and a wrong way, strangely, to call for the elimination of Israel.
The secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, provided an example of both ways in recent weeks. When the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stated on October 26 that "the regime occupying Jerusalem must be eliminated from the pages of history," Mr. Annan replied by expressing "dismay." Again on December 8, when Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be moved to Europe, Annan responded with "shock."
But dismay and shock at Ahmadinejad's statements did not prevent Annan from participating on November 29, just between the Iranian's outbursts, in a U.N.-sponsored "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People." Anne Bayefsky of " Eye on the UN," reports that Annan sat on the dais with an Arabic-language "Map of Palestine" nearby that showed a Palestine replacing Israel. It cartographically achieved exactly what Ahmadinejad called for: the elimination of the Jewish state.
Annan's contradictory actions result from the fact that, since 1993, explicit calls for the destruction of Israel have become offensive, but implicit ones have become more acceptable. The latter include:
Demands for a Palestinian " right of return" (demographically overrunning the Jewish state with anyone claiming to be a Palestinian);
Declaring a "jihad to liberate Jerusalem";
Commemorating the creation of Israel as Al-Nakba ("the disaster");
Proposing a " one-state solution" (i.e., no more Israel);
Tributes to "all those of who have given their lives for the cause of the Palestinian people" (including suicide bombers); and
Maps that do not show Israel.
Fatah and Hamas together display this dichotomy. Both aspire to eliminate Israel, but they have chosen different paths to get there.
Fatah's tactics have been opportunistic, duplicitous, and inconsistent since 1988, when Yasser Arafat nominally condemned terrorism and began the "peace process" with Israel – even as he simultaneously sponsored suicide terrorism and promoted an ideology totally rejecting Israeli legitimacy. This transparent deception enabled Fatah to gain great benefits from Israel, including a self-governing authority, a quasi-military force, vast Western subventions, and near-control of one border.
Hamas, by contrast, consistently has rejected Israel's existence, which has won it ever-larger segments of Palestinian Arab public opinion (the latest poll shows it ahead of Fatah in the forthcoming elections, 45% to 35%). But this overt rejectionism also has made it anathema to Israel and others, limiting its effectiveness. As a result, Hamas in recent months has started showing more flexibility; for example, it generally has honored a cease-fire with Israel and is moving in the direction of entering the diplomatic process. This brings advantages; the " Conflicts Forum" and others, with some success, are presenting Hamas as a newly legitimate interlocutor.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad might find itself the only purely rejectionist organization against Israel.
Why do such distinctions in style matter? Because the Fatah approach seduces Israelis enough to work with them; Arafat-like euphemisms, inconsistencies, subterfuges, and lies encourage them to make " painful concessions." Contrarily, the Ahmadinejad-PIJ approach crudely confronts Israel with overt and brutal threats that cannot be rationalized away. Blatant calls for Israel's disappearance make Israelis bristle, acquire new armaments, and close down diplomatically.
These ploys might strain credulity – surely the Israelis realize that the former is no less lethal than the latter?
Actually, they do not. Since 1993, Israelis have shown themselves, in the words of the philosopher Yoram Hazony, to be "an exhausted people, confused and without direction," willing and even eager to be duped by their enemies. All they need are some overtures, however unconvincing, that they will be freed from war, and they barely can restrain themselves from making concessions to mortal enemies.
Thus does enlightened world opinion condemn Ahmadinejad, sensing he went too far and will cause Israelis to retreat. If he would only tone down his comments and politely call for Israel's elimination by, for example, endorsing a one-state solution, all would be well.
Thus have Israelis effectively defined which anti-Zionism is acceptable and which is not. Kofi Annan's record of both condemning and endorsing Israel's elimination merely reflects the etiquette of destruction established by Israelis themselves.
by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
November 15, 2005
A suicide bombing in Hadera, Israel, on October 26 that killed five people inspired the usual Palestinian joy: some 3,000 people took to the streets in celebration, chanting Allahu Akbar, calling for more suicide attacks against Israelis, and congratulating the "martyr's" family on the success of the attack.
But Palestinian Arabs were uncharacteristically morose after three explosions went off on November 9, killing 57 persons and injuring hundreds, in Amman, Jordan. That's because, for the very first time, they found themselves the main victim of those same Islamist "martyrs."
The massacre at a wedding in the Radisson SAS hotel ballroom took the lives of 17 family members attending the nuptials of what the London Times called a Palestinian " golden couple, beloved of their prominent Palestinian families and friends." The bombing also killed four Palestinian Authority officials, notably Bashir Nafeh, head of military intelligence on the West Bank.
After two decades of doling out this horror against Israelis, some of whom were also attending festive events (a Passover dinner, a Bar Mitzvah), Palestinians, who form a majority of the Jordanian population, unexpectedly found themselves at the receiving end.
And, guess what: They did not like it.
The brother of a woman injured in the attack told a reporter, "My sister, I love her. I love her to death, and if something happened to her, I'd be really..." Choked, he stopped speaking and cried. Another relative called the terrorists "vicious criminals." A third cried out, "Oh my God, oh my God. Is it possible that Arabs are killing Arabs, Muslims killing Muslims?"
I extend my deepest sympathy to the family. I also hope that Palestinian Arabs, who have established a worldwide reputation not just for relying heavily on suicide murder but for doing so enthusiastically, will benefit from this unique learning opportunity.
No other press and school system indoctrinates children to become suicide murderers. No other people holds joyous wakes for dead suicide bombers. No other parents hope their children will blow themselves up. None other receives lavish endorsement and funding for terrorism from the authorities. Nor has another people produced a leader so inextricably tied to terrorism as was Yasser Arafat, nor so bountifully devoted its allegiance to him.
The memorials of his death on November 11 were marked by effusive statements how " he will remain alive in our hearts" and reaffirmations to continue his work.
The Amman bombings, attributed to Al-Qaeda, exposed the hypocrisy of Palestinians and their supporters, who condemn terrorism against themselves but not against others, especially not Israelis. Shaker Elsayed, imam of Dar al-Hijrah Mosque in Virginia, denounced the Amman wedding attack as a "senseless act." Very nice. But Brian Hecht of the Investigative Project notes that Mr. Elsayed has a long history of justifying terrorist attacks against Israelis: "The jihad is a must for everyone, a child, a lady and a man," he said. "They have to make jihad with every tool that they can."
Queen Noor of Jordan embodied this hypocrisy when she stated that the Amman terrorists "made a significant tactical error here, because they have attacked innocent civilians, primarily Muslims," implying her approval had the victims been non-Muslims.
Will the Palestinian Arabs' shameful love affair with suicide killings and "martyrdom" diminish after the atrocity in Amman? Might a taste of their own medicine teach them that what goes around comes around? That barbarism ultimately visits the barbarians too?
Small signs point to a shift in views, at least momentarily in Jordan. Survey research done in 2004 at Jordan University found two-thirds of Jordanian adults seeing Al-Qaeda in Iraq as "a legitimate resistance organization." After the bombings, the pollster found that nine of ten survey participants who previously endorsed Al-Qaeda had changed their minds.
To change Palestinian Arab behavior requires that civilized people finally get tough on suicide terrorism. That means rejecting Hamas as a political organization and excluding dialogue with it. It means shunning propagandistic movies such as Paradise Now, a film that whitewashes Palestinian suicide bombing. And it means convicting Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives Sami Al-Arian and his Florida cohorts.
The message to Palestinian Arabs needs to be simple, consistent, and universal: Everyone condemns suicide terrorism, unequivocally, without exceptions, whether the arena is electoral, diplomatic, or educational, and whether the bombing is in Amman or Hadera.
Ramallah: Islamic violence targets Christians
PALESTINE - HOLY LAND
7 April, 2006
Ramallah (AsiaNews) – Burned school rooms, church window panes destroyed, bible study halls set on fire and Catholic youth threatened by Muslims: thus runs a list of escalating violent attacks against Christians in Ramallah since Hamas won the election.
The parish priest, Fr Ibrahim Hijazin, 55 years, reported the violence to AsiaNews. Fr Ibrahim has been the parish priest in Ramallah for nine years and for 13 he has been running the Al Ahliyya school that educates poor Christian and Muslim children. The college was set up in 1856, in the time of the Ottoman Empire, and it had never been the target of violence before.
Once upon a time, Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian presidency, was considered to a Christian city with at least 40-50,000 Christians. Now at least 30,000 have emigrated to America and countries in the Gulf. Now, as a result of the emigration, out of an overall population of around 40,000 people, Christians number around 10,000, sub-divided into Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Melkites and Catholics, who are around 2,000.
The parish priest said the thugs were people coming from outside who were determined to discredit the government of Hamas and its capacity to maintain law and order.
“On 10 February, while I was in Jericho for a meeting of the Legion of Mary, with the patriarch of Jerusalem, a youth called to warn me that a classroom had been burned,” Fr Ibrahim said. “When I arrived, I found the remains of two Molotov cocktails, thrown at the windows that had the glass panes broken. We called the police and they started an inquiry but we have not any result.”
Once again, “on 5 March, a Sunday, after Mass, one of my parishioners came to let me know there had been another fire started in the basketball ground of the school. All the equipment was destroyed and the hall was completely ruined. Then too we called the police, but they have not yet managed to find out who was behind it. This time, however, around two dozen people from Hamas came. They proposed putting Hamas men to guard the building and the church, even inside, but I declined the offer, accepting only to have one guard outside.”
“All these incidents took place at night. Once, when Cardinal Theodore Mc Carrick of Washington was here with the patriarch, we made the matter known to the President Abu Mazen, and he also promised to rectify the situation. But so far, we have seen no results at all. We continue to face problems even with the community: our youth meeting in the evening for activities are often threatened and beaten by Muslim youth, who come and force their way into the parish building. We have reported this too to the police.”
The parish priest does not think anyone has anything against him: “I am very well known because the school welcomes Christian and Muslim youth, very poor ones, and there is a beautiful friendship among them. Before the Intifada, we also had Judaism courses and Israeli youth used to participate.”
As for who could be behind the incidents, “we think they are coming from outside Ramallah. Suspicion is falling on Palestinians who are against the Hamas government and who want to ignite inter-faith conflict” to discredit them. The parish priest swore there were never any problems with Hamas.
Other Christian communities have also been targeted. On 20 March, the Lutheran Church had all its windows and panes of glass broken. The headquarters of the Protestant bible association of Birzeit “Living stones” was burned down. On the doors, someone had written: “Oh Prophet of God, [we are] at your service!”
Palestinians burn West Bank YMCA
Follows Muslim warnings for Christian group to leave Hamas-controlled town or see violence
September 9, 2006
FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU
By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – Palestinian gunmen today attacked and set fire to the Young Men's Christian Association headquarters in Qalqiliya, a large West Bank city controlled by Hamas.
Local government sources identified the attackers as members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups, saying the identities of the gunmen are "well known" to Qalqiliya's security forces, which are controlled by the Hamas government.
Today's arson follows a series of warnings by the Muslim leadership of Qalqilya accusing the city's YMCA of missionary activity and demanding the Christian organization close its offices and leave town or face likely Muslim violence.
According to local reports, the gunmen today destroyed the locks on the YMCA's entrance gates, crushed the gates, then entered the building and set it ablaze. Local fire brigades reportedly rushed to the scene and stopped the fire before it spread to neighboring buildings. The building sustained serious damage, YMCA officials said.
The Qalqiliya police say they opened an investigation into the incident and will hunt down and arrest the attackers.
One political source in the city told WND, "The identity of the attackers is well known to Hamas. We don't expect the Hamas-controlled police, the Hamas city council or the Hamas Interior Ministry to do anything about this attack."
The source called the arson a "warning to YMCA's and Christian groups in the Palestinian areas that they are not safe."
In April, WND reported major Muslim organizations in Qalqiliya, in conjunction with local mosques, the city's Mufti and municipal leaders, sent a letter to the interior minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority accusing the YMCA of missionary activities and demanding the Palestinian government immediately shut down the Christian offices.
The PA did not act against the YMCA. The YMCA has operated in Qalqiliya since 2000.
The petition, obtained by WND, states, "We the preachers of the mosques and representatives of major families in Qalqiliya ask you to close the offices of the YMCA because the population of Qalqiliya doesn't need such offices, especially since there are not many Christians in our city."
It warned, "The act of these institutions of the YMCA, including attempting to convert Muslims in our city, will bring violence and tension."
Three days before the petition was delivered several Molotov cocktails were thrown at Qalqiliya's YMCA. Local political sources said the Molotov attacks followed Friday sermons in dozens of Qalqiliya mosques in which preachers called upon the community to revolt against the YMCA.
"There was a coordination among the mosques to speak about the YMCA. One major imam, for example, warned if the YMCA doesn't close down, it will lead to 'acts that no one would like to see,'" said one political source in April.
Joseph Medi, the YMCA manager in Qalqiliya, told WND his operation has never been involved with missionary activity.
"It's not what we're about. There is no missionary activity here whatsoever. The YMCA is in the city to serve the population with financial help, sporting activities and general educational programs," he said.
Medi pointed out many employees at his branch of the YMCA are Muslim. He said the YMCA was instrumental in establishing a number of community programs, including contributing to the financing of the Al Ahli Club, a mostly Muslim local soccer organization that has competed in national games.
Medi said Qalqiliya's YMCA received a final notification from local leaders warning the association to close its offices before "drastic measures" were taken. He said no specific measures were specified.
Qalqiliya is located at the West Bank's point of closest proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. There are reported only about 50-100 Christians in a population of about 28,300. The city's mayor, Sheikh Waji Qawwas, is a Hamas member who was just released from Israeli prison.
Hamas swept all 15 municipal offices in local elections in Qalqiliya last December. The terror group went on to win the vast majority of Palestinian parliamentary seats in January and officially took over the Palestinian Authority four months ago.
Christian persecution trend in West Bank, Gaza
One Christian leader, an aide to Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch Michel Sabah who asked his name be withheld out of fear of Muslim retaliation, called the threats against Qalqiliya's YMCA part of a general trend of Christian persecution in Palestinian areas.
"It's been happening all over the West Bank and Gaza," said the aide.
There have been rampant reports of abuses and persecution in several West Bank towns taken over by the PA.
Anti-Christian riots have been reported in Ramallah, Nazareth and surrounding villages as well as in towns in Gaza. In Bethlehem, local Christians have long complained of anti-Christian violence. The city's Christian population, once 90 percent, declined drastically since the PA took control in December 1995. Christians now make up less than 25 percent of Bethlehem, according to Israeli surveys.
Some analysts called the demands for the YMCA to close one of many indications Hamas may be seeking to impose Islamic rule on the Palestinian population.
Israeli officials say Hamas in the Gaza Strip has established hard-line Islamic courts and created the Hamas Anti-Corruption Group, which is described as a kind of "morality police" operating within Hamas' organization. Hamas has denied the existence of the group, but it recently carried out a high-profile "honor killing" widely covered by the Palestinian media.
A Hamas-run council in the West Bank came under international criticism last year when it barred an open-air music and dance festival, declaring it was against Islam.
Hamas chieftain: West can learn from Islamic values
In response to the uproar, Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar told WND during an exclusive interview: "I hardly understand the point of view of the West concerning these issues. The West brought all this freedom to its people but it is that freedom that has brought about the death of morality in the West. It's what led to phenomena like homosexuality, homelessness and AIDS."
Asked if Hamas will impose hard-line Islamic law on the Palestinians, al-Zahar responded, "The Palestinian people are Muslim people, and we do not need to impose anything on our people because they are already committed to their faith and religion. People are free to choose their way of life, their way of dress and behavior."
Al-Zahar said his terror group, which demands strict dress codes for females, respects women's rights.
"It is wrong to think that in our Islamic society there is a lack of rights for women. Women enjoy their rights. What we have, unlike the West, is that young women cannot be with men and have relations outside marriage. Sometimes with tens of men. This causes the destruction of the family institution and the fact that many kids come to the world without knowing who are their fathers or who are their mothers. This is not a modern and progressed society," al-Zahar explained.
The terror chieftain told WND the West can learn from his group's Islamic values.
"Here I refer to what was said in the early '90s by Britain's Prince Charles at Oxford University. He spoke about Islam and its important role in morality and culture. He said the West must learn from Islam how to bring up children properly and to teach them the right values."
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip - Palestinian gunmen forced a Hamas commander to his knees and shot him to death early Wednesday outside the courthouse where he worked as an Islamic judge, escalating factional tensions in the Gaza Strip and prompting the Palestinian prime minister to cut short a trip abroad.
The death came two days after three young sons of a Fatah-allied Palestinian intelligence officer were killed in a drive-by shooting, sparking renewed conflict between the rival Hamas and Fatah factions. The violence has reduced chances for a unity government and pushed the two sides closer to civil war.
Palestinian security officials said the slain man was Bassam al-Fara, 30, a judge at the Islamic court and a Hamas commander who belongs to the largest clan in the town of Khan Younis.
In a statement faxed to reporters, Hamas accused a Fatah "death squad" for al-Fara's death.
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said the dead man had been a field commander in Hamas' military wing and a prominent figure in the militant Islamic group. He gave no further details about al-Fara's militant activities but pledged to hunt down the killers. "Hamas is not going to forget the blood of its members," Barhoum said.
Fatah spokesman Tawfik Abu Khoussa rejected the accusations. "We condemn all acts of anarchy whatever may be behind them. We call on the brothers in Hamas to stop firing accusations before the investigation," he said.
In Sudan, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a top Hamas official, said he would return to Gaza on Thursday, cutting short a trip to Arab and Muslim countries, including Iran and Syria. Haniyeh left Gaza on Nov. 28 on what was expected to be a monthlong trip.
"We need the prime minister to be here now to resolve the internal problems," said Haniyeh's political adviser, Ahmed Youssef.
Haniyeh dismissed fears of the violence in Gaza escalating into a civil war.
"We want to assure you that words such as 'civil war' don't exist in our dictionary. They don't exist in our makeup, in our culture," Haniyeh said in Khartoum. "We will protect the national unity of the Palestinian people and we will thwart any attempt to instigate an inter-Palestinian struggle."
Witnesses to the shooting Wednesday said four gunmen calmly ate breakfast at a food stand as they waited for al-Fara outside the courthouse. When al-Fara emerged from a taxi, three of the men grabbed him and forced him onto his knees, while the fourth shot him. The attack left the sidewalk riddled with bullet holes. The witnesses declined to be identified, fearing for their safety.
Dozens of people gathered at the scene and Palestinian security set up roadblocks. Hamas militants also set up their own roadblocks throughout town, searching for the shooters.
About 1,000 Fatah loyalists, about half of them uniformed security personnel, marched through Gaza to the residence of President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.
"We tell Abu Mazen the time has come to exercise your powers and stop this farce," said Othman Shalouf, an officer in the National Security Service. Abbas is also known as Abu Mazen.
Some of the protesters fired in the air, but there were no clashes with Hamas militiamen they passed on their route. One demonstrator shouted appeals for Palestinian unity over a loudspeaker.
Students of the al-Azhar university joined the procession, carrying pictures of the three boys killed Monday, as well as Fatah security men killed in internal clashes.
Fatah and Hamas have been locked in a power struggle since Hamas ousted Fatah in parliamentary elections. More than 40 Gazans have died in battles between the two groups since Hamas took power in March.
Seeking to end the standoff, Abbas has been trying to persuade Hamas to join Fatah in a national unity government. But the talks broke down late last month. Tensions heightened after Abbas announced plans over the weekend to call early elections, drawing Hamas accusations that he is plotting a coup.
The latest round of violence was sparked by the deaths Monday of the three young sons of Baha Balousheh, an intelligence officer and Fatah loyalist who helped lead a crackdown on Hamas a decade ago. Balousheh, who was not in the car, escaped two previous Hamas assassination attempts.
Hamas denied involvement in the boys' deaths.
Hamas captures Fatah security HQ in Gaza
By DIAA HADID,
Associated Press Writer
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Hamas gunmen captured the headquarters of the-allied security forces in northern Gaza, seizing control of a key prize in the bloody power struggle between the sides, Hamas and Fatah officials said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah said Tuesday's fighting amounted to a coup attempt by the Islamic militants.
Hamas attacked the compound with mortars and automatic gunfire, and after several hours of battle, seized control, said Hamas commander Wael al-Shakra. A Fatah security official confirmed the building had been lost. He said at least 10 people were killed and 30 wounded.
Security commanders loyal to Abbas complained they were not given clear orders to fight back at a time when Hamas appeared to be moving forward according to a plan.
Abbas' Fatah movement was to meet later in the day to decide whether to pull out of his shaky coalition with Hamas. Calls by Abbas and exasperated Egyptian mediators for a cease-fire went unheeded.
Instead, Hamas and Fatah militants threatened to kill each other's leaders. In Gaza, a rocket-propelled grenade damaged the home of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas but caused no injuries in what Hamas said was an attempted assassination. In the , Fatah gunmen kidnapped a deputy Cabinet minister from Hamas.
Hamas gunmen also exchanged fire with Fatah forces at the southern security headquarters in the southern town of Khan Younis, but had not yet launched a major assault. The town's streets were empty as people huddled indoors.
Col. Nasser Khaldi, a Fatah commander in southern Gaza, confirmed his men were on the defensive. Khaldi said Abbas, the leader of Fatah, must give orders now to fight back.
"There is a weakness of our leaders," he said. "Hamas is just taking over our positions. There are no orders."
Pro-Fatah forces attacked the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV and radio stations in Gaza City after security officials said they received orders to stop the broadcasts. Shortly after the attack, they started broadcasting pro-Fatah songs, a sign the security forces had taken control.
Hamas and Fatah have been locked in a violent power struggle since Hamas defeated Fatah in January 2006 legislative elections, ending four decades of Fatah rule.
The sides agreed to share power in an uneasy coalition three months ago, but put off key disputes, including control of the security forces. Most are dominated by Fatah loyalists, while Hamas has formed its own militia, in addition to the thousands of gunmen at its command.
The infighting has grown increasingly brutal. Some of those killed were shot execution-style or hit in shootouts that turned hospitals into battle grounds, while others were thrown from rooftops. Residents huddled indoors, and university exams were canceled.
The head of the Egyptian mediation team, Lt. Col. Burhan Hamad, said neither side responded to his call to hold truce talks. "It seems they don't want to come. We must make them ashamed of themselves. They have killed all hope. They have killed the future," said Hamad, who brokered several previous short-lived cease-fires.
Hamad said both sides were about equal in firepower. "Neither can have a decisive victory," he said. "To be decisive, they need weapons that neither side has."
Hamas Militiamen Beat Protesters in Gaza
Tuesday August 14, 2007
By IBRAHIM BARZAK
Associated Press Writer
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Security men for Gaza's Hamas rulers clubbed and slammed rifle butts into opponents staging a rare protest Monday, seizing the cameras of journalists covering the event and raiding media offices to prevent news footage from getting out.
The Islamic militant group claims it is willing to tolerate dissent, but the crackdown was the latest in a series of moves to squash opposing voices, including breaking up private parties Friday and Monday where people were singing songs of the rival Fatah movement.
After Hamas gunmen in the Gaza Strip routed forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah in five days of fighting in June, the group declared an amnesty for former Fatah fighters.
Yet when Fatah and allied groups announced plans for Monday's rally, Hamas banned ``all demonstrations and public gatherings'' that do not have official permission.
Buses carrying protesters were halted by Hamas guards who beat passengers, driving them away and confiscating Fatah flags. However, about 300 people got past the militia cordon and demonstrated for 20 minutes, shouting ``We want freedom. We want to raise our voice!''
Security officers arrested several demonstrators and then confiscated equipment from news photographers and cameramen trying to cover the arrests, including an Associated Press still camera.
Hamas squads also raided the Gaza offices of media organizations, looking for material from the rally. Staffers at satellite broadcaster Al-Arabiya said the militiamen seized a camera and videotape at their office.
The Palestinian journalists union urged its members to observe a three-day boycott of any events organized by the Hamas militia, known as the Executive Force, to protest its treatment of the media.
Saleh Nasser, a member of the small, leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was at the rally, condemned Hamas' actions.
``Treating people in this way when they came to raise their voice in a peaceful demonstration is something that is condemned, rejected and cannot be accepted,'' he said. ``We are astonished by the decision to ban demonstrations.''
The Gaza fighting in June, during which about 100 people were killed and 500 wounded, deepened the already bitter political rivalry between Hamas and Fatah.
Following the Hamas takeover of Gaza, Abbas expelled Hamas from the Palestinian coalition government and formed a West Bank-based administration of moderates in its place.
Undeterred, deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh pledged to impose law and order in the formerly anarchic Gaza Strip. But his Executive Force is gaining a reputation for heavy-handedness, particularly when dealing with Fatah supporters.
On Friday, rifle-toting militiamen roared up to a bachelor party where revelers were dancing to Fatah songs. Video showed the Hamas men firing in the air to break up the celebration, clubbing guests, hurling chairs around and leaving one man lying unconscious.
The images were repeatedly broadcast on Fatah-affiliated Palestine TV. The cameraman who took the footage, from the local Gaza Ramattan news agency, was detained and questioned by Hamas for several hours.
On Monday, the Executive Force was in action again, breaking up the wedding of a Fatah activist and holing five guests for several hours.
One of those detained, Zaid Salem, said wedding participants were singing Fatah songs but did not break a Hamas ban on celebratory gunfire and were not charged with any wrongdoing.
``We were celebrating the wedding and we were astonished by this act,'' he said. ``We were released, but we have no explanation for what happened.''
Hamas did not comment directly on Monday's incidents.
But in a statement, it said the Executive Force is a nonpartisan enforcer of public order regulations, which require that demonstrations be authorized 48 hours in advance and that social events be low key - without shooting, fireworks, excessive noise or disruption of public streets.
``Anyone violating these orders will be subject to punishment,'' the statement said. ``Nobody is above the law.''
violence, a Hamas militant was killed and seven others were wounded early
Tuesday by Israeli gunfire in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials
said. The Israeli army confirmed it carried out the strike, saying it was
targeting militants in the area.
Palestinians Between Nationalism and Islam
By Raphael Israeli
The Palestinians are at war. But their war is not only against Israel. The two most prominent Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, continue to battle on the streets of Gaza and the West Bank.
But the war does not end there. There is also a war for the soul of the Palestinian people, notes the prolific Hebrew University Prof. Raphael Israeli, in his newest book, Palestinians Between Nationalism and Islam.
Unfortunately, the Islamists are winning. They are exhorted to violence by the bulk of the Muslim world, which is steeped in the muck of radical Islam and the ossified ideas of authoritarian rule.
Only very slowly have moderates emerged from the shadows in Tunisia, Qatar, Iran and elsewhere to challenge this culture of violence. In some cases, these moderates are imprisoned for their courage. The courage of outspoken Palestinians, such as Nabil Amr, can result in life-threatening injury (he was shot by gunmen in Ramallah in 2004), or even death (many Palestinians have been summarily killed on charges of "collaboration").
The result is that the violence continues. "Islamikaze" violence, as Israeli terms it, is a virus that spreads quickly throughout the Muslim world. However, criticism is slowly seeping in, and challenging a system of ideas that the West hopes is doomed to fail.
Drawing from previously published essays, Israeli's book explores the dueling rhetoric between Hamas and Fatah leaders in the Palestinian territories. Even before the collapse of the Oslo peace process, the language of Islamism had become a tool to garner support on the Palestinian street. Indeed, Yasser Arafat found that even while he negotiated peace with Israel, he needed to wield the vitriolic language of his Islamist foes as a means to maintain legitimacy in a violent culture, thus blurring the line between state and religion in the still-forming Palestinian identity. Even Palestinian women have wielded this rhetoric in their bid to play a role in the "liberation of Palestine."
The author, a noted expert on the disaffected yet demographically significant Arab Israelis, observes that this population of some one million is undergoing a similar process. Their citizenship in the Jewish state makes their struggle even more complex.
Israeli explores several ways in which the Palestinians have failed to advance toward statehood, and still other roads this embattled people may yet take.
Notably, he states that "exactly as there are many Arab settlements within Israel proper, there is no reason that Jewish settlements cannot exist within the densely populated Arab areas." Such compromises will not be made, however, so long as the intransigent language of Islamism dominates the public square.
The writer, a former US Treasury intelligence analyst, is director of policy for the Jewish Policy Center and author of the forthcoming book Hamas vs Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine (Palgrave, November 2008).
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX