fatah leader house 298.8.
(photo credit: AP)
Press rewind, stop at May 15, hit play and you'll reel from a sense of deja vu. Just like on Tuesday, over a dozen Palestinians were killed in internal Fatah-Hamas clashes in a single day.
The result at the time: More than 30 Kassams were fired into Israel, a move interpreted by Military Intelligence as an attempt to draw the IDF into the fray in order to reunite the Palestinian factions.
The recent clashes in the Gaza Strip are almost an exact repeat of those a month ago. Again Hamas is proving that there is no such entity as a "Palestinian national-unity government" and that its ultimate goal - directed by Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal - is to take over the Palestinian Authority.
This is exactly what Hamas is doing. On Tuesday, Hamas took over Fatah military installations in the Gaza Strip and shelled PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's offices in Gaza City. It is proving what the defense establishment has already known for years: that it is the dominant and ruling force in the Gaza Strip.
The working assumption within the IDF and the Defense Ministry is that at some point - just like last month - Hamas and Fatah will turn their guns against Sderot, since there is nothing like a common enemy to unite the competing factions.
The first immediate result of the internal Palestinian clashes is that the IDF will suspend its operations. Israel traditionally does not get involved when Hamas and Fatah go at it, especially when that is exactly what the terror groups would like.
The assumption is also that this will not be the last conflict between Hamas and Fatah. Predictions are that while the Egyptians will once again step in and obtain a fragile cease-fire, it is only a matter of time before the groups once again hit the streets.
Then there is the northern front, where Syria is beefing up forces along the border and procuring advanced military systems alongside Hizbullah in Lebanon, which is, Israeli defense officials said last week, back to its pre-war strength.
Like the PA, Lebanon is a case of a moderate US-backed leader who is proving weak and incapable of quelling factional violence. For weeks now, Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's Lebanese Armed Forces have been battling Fatah al-Islam in the Palestinian refugee camps, but without a clear and decisive victory.
At the epicenter of all of these seemingly isolated conflicts is the region's true troublemaker - Iran.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah and Syria are all funded by Teheran, which continues to ignore international pressure as it races towards obtaining nuclear weapons.
Noting these ongoing conflicts, UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen's dismal prediction for the Middle East on Monday, his warning of a "dark picture" emerging, and increasing chances of regional conflict, should not be taken lightly.
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