- 2012elections - 9/11 Special Coverage - aca - africanamericanalzheimers - aids - Alabama News Network - american - Awards & Expo - bees - bilingual - border - californiaeducation - Caribbean - cir - citizenship - climatechange - collgeinmiami - community - democrats - ecotourism - Elders - Election 2012 - elections2012 - escuelas - Ethnic Media in the News - Ethnicities - Events - Eye on Egypt - Fellowships - food - Foreclosures - Growing Up Poor in the Bay Area - Health Care Reform - healthyhungerfreekids - howtodie - humiliating - immigrants - Inside the Shadow Economy - kimjongun - Latin America - Law & Justice - Living - Media - memphismediaroundtable - Multimedia - NAM en Espaol - Politics & Governance - Religion - Richmond Pulse - Science & Technology - Sports - The Movement to Expand Health Care Access - Video - Voter Suppression - War & Conflict - 攔截盤查政策 - Top Stories - Immigration - Health - Economy - Education - Environment - Ethnic Media Headlines - International Affairs - NAM en Español - Occupy Protests - Youth Culture - Collaborative Reporting

Israel’s Attacks Unite Hamas’ Enemies in Common Front

New America Media, News Report, Shane Bauer Posted: Jan 19, 2009

Editor’s Note: Israel called a ceasefire after claiming a crippling blow against Hamas in Gaza. But the Israeli assaults have forced political realignments in their wake, uniting an array of Palestinian militant groups, many of them enemies of Hamas, into a united front with Hamas against Israel. NAM contributor Shane Bauer reports from Damascus.

DAMASCUS, Syria -- The Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, an armed wing of Palestinian political party Fatah, once threatened to kill Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal. But from the beginning of the war on Gaza up to the ceasefire called by Palestinian factions on Sunday, it was fighting shoulder to shoulder with its former rival, lobbing rockets into Israel from the beleaguered coastal strip.

Israel says it has dealt Hamas a crippling blow, but its 22-day onslaught, which killed some 1,300 civilians and injured an estimated 6,000, has also united a slew of Palestinian factions, many of them previously sworn enemies of Hamas. Many observers are left wondering, will the Hamas-allied coalition be a new front against Israel? Will Hamas be able to prevent other factions from launching attacks from Gaza and breaking the current phase of calm?

“Israel’s aggression on Gaza has unified the Palestinian groups in the face of the Zionist aggression,” says Mohammed Nazzal, member of Hamas’ political bureau in Damascus.

Several factions have been staking claims in the fight in Gaza. Daily updates on the websites of militant wings of Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, the Popular Resistance Councils and other groups—variously decorated with RPG-toting men, Quranic verse, jagged communist style art, and pictures of the late Yasser Arafat—have claimed responsibility for attacks on Israeli troops and rockets launched into Israel.

Most groups claim to be launching attacks coordinated with Hamas and other factions. On its website, Islamic Jihad says it has lobbed 262 rockets into Israel since the war began, many of which it says were fired in concert with Hamas.

Members of the group, whose leadership is based in Damascus, refused to be interviewed, saying they had no faith that the U.S. media would accurately represent their situation.

Israeli military sources say at least 750 rockets have been shot into Israel since “Operation Cast Lead” began, killing three Israeli civilians. They say 10 soldiers have been killed and more than 100 injured.

The fact that some of those rockets came from Fatah members contradicts the official stance of the party’s leader, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah representative in Damascus Sameer Rifai said. Abbas has been calling for both sides to unconditionally cease hostilities in Gaza, a stance that many say will cost Fatah much of its former support. Fatah’s armed wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, has been acting without the consent of the Fatah leadership, he said.

Nonetheless, Rifai said the Brigade was engaged in a “legitimate form of defense. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are a part of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” he said in an interview last week. “They are defending their homes, their lives, and themselves. They are people fighting an occupation.”

Some analysts say the fact that factions of Fatah have been fighting in Gaza symbolizes the high level of disintegration within the organization.

Abbas’ “grassroots support doesn’t want to be linked to or feel that it is a part of an organization that has not participated in defending fellow Palestinians,” says Maha Azzam, associate fellow at the Middle East Center at Chatham House in London. “So they are saying, 'Our leadership may be wrong, but there are those among us at the grassroots level that are willing to stand by our brethren in Gaza.' This delegitimizes Abbas’ role enormously.”

Meanwhile, the role of Hamas seems to be largely gaining legitimacy in Damascus, the de facto capital of many Palestinian factions. On Sunday, Deputy of Hamas’ political bureau Musa Abu Marzuq appeared on Syrian television, speaking not in the name of Hamas, but “in the name of Palestinian resistance factions” to declare a one-week ceasefire and insist that all Israeli troops leave within that time period and open all border crossings.

But despite the semblance of a unified front against Israel, Hamas might not be able to hold together an alliance of such disparate groups for long. One faction, the secular PFLP, has already dissented. The group’s representative in Damascus, Maher Taher, declined to comment on its decision, but in an interview with Al Jazeera, he insisted “the Israeli attack is continuing.”

“The PFLP is fighting on the ground against this barbaric invasion by Israel,” he said in an interview last week, before the ceasefire. “This is a battle involving all of the Palestinian people.”

Last week, several other Palestinian factions in Damascus issued a statement refusing “any security arrangements that affect the resistance and its legitimate right to struggle against the occupation.” The coalition was composed of representatives of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, Al Saiqa, the Popular Struggle Front, the Revolutionary Communist Party, Palestinian Liberation organization, Fatah’s “Intifada” faction, and a number of other Palestinian factions.

They categorically refused the presence of international forces in Gaza, a proposition put forth in part by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. They said that any peace initiatives must include the immediate secession of Israeli attacks, the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, an end to the economic blockade, and an opening of all of Gaza’s crossings, including the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

“This (alliance) will last so long as there is a crisis,” Azzam says. “Once stability is reached and the political process gets under way, which isn’t particularly viable in the foreseeable future, then we will see the factionalism come the fore again.”

But whether or not Hamas’ allies stay allies may not make much of a difference for Israel. People here say factions will likely either continue to stand behind Hamas, bolstering the group’s legitimacy in Gaza, or break away and start launching rockets in violation of ceasefires.

“All factions will need to agree on one position” for the conflict in Gaza to come to a final solution, PFLP’s Maher Taher said last week.

But ultimately, the end still seems like a long way off.

“We are not going to give up our right to resist," he said, until Israel ends the occupation.”

In Gaza, Shortage of Basic Necessities Worse Than Threat of Death

Hamas Leader: ‘We Will Not Surrender’

Al Jazeera Breaks the Israeli Media Blockade

Page 1 of 1




Just Posted

NAM Coverage

Civil Liberties

Why There Are Words

Aug 10, 2011