A short summary of what’s in the Palestinian press about the civil war: it’s Israel’s fault. So much of this illustrates exactly why the Palestinians are in such bad shape. They do not inhabit reality when it comes to assigning blame. The only thing that is real in all this are the bullets that kill.
PALESTINIAN FIGHTING GROWS, AS BOTH FATAH AND HAMAS BLAME ISRAEL
Verbal attacks on Jews mount in Palestinian media
By Michael Widlanski
Gunmen of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, desperate at being pushed back by rival terrorists from the Hamas Islamic movement, reportedly launched artillery attacks Friday on the Islamic College in Gaza that is a Fatah stronghold, but there were reports that Fatah forces were retreating or throwing down their weapons in many areas.
The attack on the Islamic college, along with anguished pleas for a ceasefire from officials of the Palestinian Authority, were a strong sign that the Fatah forces were in almost complete disarray before the well-motivated and well paid forces of Hamas. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, it seemed the Palestinian Authority had vanished.
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas was shown on his own TV station kneeling in deep prayer as one of Abbas’s officials offered a fervent plea for unity and rapprochement between the Islamic forces of Hamas and the somewhat more secular forces of Abbas’s own Fatah and PA security forces.
“We have to stop fighting each other,” declared the mosque sermonizer, speaking from a mosque in Ramallah in the West Bank during the nationally televised Friday mosque speech on official Palestinian Authority (PA) television Friday.
For its part, Hamas has pretended that most of the attacks on Fatah were committed by Israel, and it has taken a public posture of accepting or calling for a ceasefire, while keeping up the pressure on Fatah.
PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyyeh of the Hamas Movement himself called for a ceasefire Thursday, but this ceasefire-like half a dozen before it this week-was immediately flouted.
Hamas’s Qassam Television station continued to broadcast films calling for children to become suicide bombers against Israel.
In one such segment, shown today (May 18) an-eight-year-old boy ties a green ribbon on his head, but then he morphs into a young man wearing a black mask who blows himself up against an Israeli target.
Both Fatah and Hamas echoed strongly anti-Semitic statements, each trying to charge that the other side was more “pro-Jewish” and therefore unworthy of Palestinian trust.
“The Jews want to control Palestine territorially and personally, ” declared Sheikh Hussein Abu Ayada, speaking Friday on Hamas’s Qassam Television channel.
“The Jews are in a crisis, and they want solve it by stirring internal conflict among us,” declared the Hamas sheikh. “Olmert and his defense minister are in a hole, and this is how they want to get out,” charged the Hamas preacher, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
At almost the same time, Abbas’s mosque preacher on PA television was also trying to shift hatred to Israel and the Jews.
“They are spending a million and a half dollars for settlements in Jerusalem and we are busy fighting each other,” said Abbas’s preacher. “We have to stop fighting each other,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Hamas and Fatah gunmen continued shelling Israel’s southern towns and cities with rockets, destroying several houses and hitting a school that was empty at the time. Between 800 to 2,000 of the 50,000 residents of Sderot have been evacuated, according to reports, and Hamas’s officials have bragged that this is a Hamas success.
PLO Chairman Abbas has occasionally lightly criticized the rocket attacks as inappropriate, but he has refrained from trying to disarm Hamas or to rein-in the members of his own Fatah movement who have continued attacks on Israel.
Abbas and his top aides now stay mostly in the West Bank where Israel has intervened more massively-and where there have been few successful Palestinian attacks in the last five years, following Israel’s military offensive against terror strongholds.
The Olmert government has hesitated to organize a similar strike into Gaza, following its less-than-successful handling of the two-front war in Lebanon and Gaza last summer.
Olmert and his Foreign Minister Tzippy Livni have been pinning their hopes on international sanctions and pressure against the Hamas-controlled PA in Gaza, but money and weapons have been reaching Hamas anyway, even though the average Palestinian there has been suffering economic deprivation.
“Anyone who helps the Jews with their boycott of us is with the Jews against the Muslims,”warned Hamas preacher Sheikh Hussein Abu Ayada.
The independent Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds ran a headline this week that said that the Palestinians were marking the 59th anniversary of their nakba -or catastrophe-the creation of Israel by creating another newer Palestinian catastrophe in Gaza.
Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post. He has also served as a special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem.
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