pals fight each other in.
(photo credit: AP)
For most Palestinian newspapers and columnists, the bloody clashes that took place between supporters of Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip on Sunday could herald a civil war that has been looming for months.
Controlled by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah, the official PA media put the blame for the street battles on Hamas and its government.
Al-Kuds and Al-Ayyam, the two leading dailies, ran black banner headlines declaring "Black Sunday" and "Catastrophe" in the Gaza Strip.
A cartoon published in Al-Kuds showed a man flushing weapons used during the internecine fighting down the toilet.
Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, another PA-funded daily, used one word in its main headline to describe the events: "sedition." The word appeared in red as a symbol of the bloodletting, on top of a picture featuring armed clashes between the two parties.
Abdel Karim Darwish, a prominent Gaza City businessman, called on the warring parties to halt the fighting to avoid civil war. "We are heading toward civil war," he wrote in the Donia al-Watan electronic magazine. "We must stop the fighting before it becomes too late."
Warning that the Palestinians were on the brink of civil war, Hafez Barghouti, editor of Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, wrote that some Hamas leaders were not interested in the establishment of a national unity government and ending international sanctions imposed on the PA since Hamas came to power. His words were clearly directed toward Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and others living in Syria and Lebanon.
"There is a certain trend in Hamas that does not want to see a national unity government," he charged. "They also don't want to see the end of the economic sanctions. Even if the international community resumes the financial aid, they will try to stop it."
Samih Shabib, a columnist with Al-Ayyam, called on the Hamas-led government "to stop acting like an ostrich by continuing to hide its head in the sand." The government, he added, cannot continue pretending that there is no starvation. "The government is trying to cancel the reality," he said. "Hamas must quickly accept the reality as it is."
Political analyst Omar al-Ghoul urged Abbas to cut short his current Arab tour, return home and dismiss the Hamas-led government. He said the only solution for the ongoing crisis was to declare a state of emergency and form a new cabinet that would run the PA until new elections.
Another analyst, Yahia Rabah, accused Interior Minister Said Siam of misusing his powers to instigate Sunday's clashes. Referring to Siam's decision to use force to quell riots by Fatah loyalists, Rabah said he "had moved in the wrong direction by displaying intransigence and hastiness."
Rabah, like many Fatah-affiliated writers, called for holding Siam accountable for his "unwise" move.
Bassem Abu Sumaya, director of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, expressed deep regret that the political turmoil in the PA areas had spilled over into internal fighting and bloodshed. Noting that many educated Palestinians were caught by surprise by the Hamas-Fatah confrontation, he condemned the torching of Hamas-run institutions. However, he also described Siam's decision to prevent protests by PA policemen as a "cowardly act."
"O Palestinians, we are killing our national cause with our own hands," wrote Hassan Nazzal, from the town of Kabatiyeh near Jenin. "We are using our filthy nails to destroy the achievements of our martyrs. By all accounts, what is happening in Gaza, Nablus, Hebron and Jenin these days marks one of the darkest pages in our history. It's indeed a very, very black page."