The streets of the Gaza Strip echo with gunfire as masked men fire on one another. Hundreds of Palestinians have been kidnapped, tortured and executed by other Palestinians in the past two years. In recent days, the fighting between Hamas and Fatah has intensified.
The New York Times reports that "two Palestinians were thrown from the roofs of high-rise buildings in Gaza City. One was an officer of the Presidential Guard, loyal to Fatah, and the other a member of the Executive Force, which was set up by Hamas as a counterweight to the Fatah-dominated official security forces."
In a seaside neighborhood in Gaza City, reports the Jerusalem Post, hundreds of members of the Bakr clan (loyal to Fatah), including women and children, were marched, hands up, to a nearby mosque. More than 10,000 Palestinians have filed requests to emigrate since January, prompting the Palestinian Authority's mufti to issue a fatwa forbidding Palestinians to leave the "blessed lands."
Who is responsible for this savagery? Why, the United States and Israel, of course. So declared the United Nations envoy to the Middle East, Alvaro de Soto, in a "confidential report" shared with The Washington Post. De Soto, who resigned last month after a 25-year career at the UN, blasted the U.S. for declining to fund Hamas after its victory at the polls in 2006, and complained that the Quartet (which includes the United States, the European Union and Russia) has taken "all pressure off Israel . . . even-handedness has been pummeled into submission."
Let's see, Israel withdrew altogether from the Gaza Strip in 2005, leaving the Palestinians to govern themselves. There they could have begun the process of building the "secular, democratic" state they've been claiming to thirst after for 50 years. Instead, Gaza has fulfilled the worst nightmares of the Israelis who opposed withdrawal -- importing arms from Iran, lobbing missiles into Israeli towns and engaging in internecine violence that makes a mockery of peace negotiations.
A Peruvian career diplomat at the UN is unable to see beyond his own prejudices, yet a reform-minded Egyptian author published an online essay (translated by The Middle East Media Research Institute) that penetrates to the heart of what ails Palestinian society and the Middle East in general. Kamal Gabriel's analysis would resound for its wisdom anywhere, but it is particularly noteworthy coming from within the Arab world -- a useful reminder that voices of reason and benevolence are not altogether silent in that part of the world.