Power Struggle Splits Palestinian Society

By Ola Attallah

GAZA CITY – The Hamas-Fatah fighting and power struggle, which claimed more five lives on Tuesday, December 19, is splitting the Palestinian society down the middle and leaving otherwise united Palestinians divided.

"Fatah with its coup attempt should be solely held accountable for what is going on. It is a battle between the good and evil," said the mother of a Palestinian prisoner at the weekly sit-in of the prisoners’ families outside the Red Cross offices in Gaza City.

"No….Hamas and its policies are to blame," she was angrily interrupted by another mother.

A third weighed in, showering the ruling Hamas with accusations of responsibility for the violence.

Deadly gun battles raged across Gaza City on Tuesday, shattering a fragile truce aimed at halting an increasingly violent power struggle between the rival Hamas and Fatah.

Five people were killed and 19 wounded in the latest bout of clashes in the Strip between supporters of both factions.

Violence has spiraled since Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas called Saturday for early elections.

The ruling Hamas has then denounced Abbas’s call for early presidential and legislative elections as "a coup d’etat against the will of the Palestinian people."

Pessimism

A third mother was not enthusiastic about any new initiative by the prisoners’ mothers to defuse tension.

"Initiative again?" she fumed. "All previous initiatives went down the drain and now the sound of weapons speaks louder.

"We need an operation by skillful surgeons," she added, heaping the blame squarely on the president, prime minister and the interior minister.

A father of a prisoner agreed.

"Initiatives are a good thing, but what is more important is translating them into concrete steps," he said.

"No…We must first uproot the corrupt in Fatah then we talk about initiatives," cried a fourth mother, in a seemingly vicious cycle of conflicting opinions.

The sharp division is not confined to the weekly gathering, a traditional meeting of the families of prisoners at the Israeli jails to keep their cause well and alive.

One can hear the Fatah-Hamas sectarian tone in every nook and crony across the impoverished Gaza Strip, already reeling under a deadly legacy of years of crippling Israeli occupation.

Lost

Sounds of reason and calls of national unity in the face of the Israeli occupiers have been lost in between.

"It is regrettable that we are killing each other," lamented one mother.

"Streets are closed as if we are in a state of war….but what breaks the heart most is that inter-Palestinian fighting is no longer a red line."

"Instead of standing united against our enemy and acting in unison, Palestinians are now pointing their weapons at each other," added another, fighting back her tears.

"They forgot all about Al-Aqsa and the prisoners," she said.

A few months ago, the talk of the same place was the sufferings of the Palestinian prisoners, when Hamas and Fatah supporters were speaking in one voice and feeling for each other.

"I pray that Palestinian factions would re-unite as we are all in the same boat facing one enemy and preoccupied with the same concerns," said the mother of prisoner Ramy Awwad.

The wife of prisoner Mohammad Hussein echoed Awwad, throwing the ball in the court of politicians.

"It is high time our leaders acted in unison, which would reflect positively on the people."

(IslamOnline.net + Agencies)

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