Palestinians in Ramallah rallying for unity 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
The mortar attacks on Israel over the weekend were designed to divert attention
from Hamas’s growing problems inside the Gaza Strip. The Hamas leadership has
been under heavy pressure as a result of mass demonstrations in the Gaza Strip
demanding an end to the Hamas-Fatah dispute.
After failing to prevent the
protests, Hamas authorities began cracking down on the organizers, political
foes and journalists.
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Hamas believes that the demonstrations are being
organized by Fatah as part of an attempt to undermine the Islamist
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum on Saturday accused Fatah and its
allies of exploiting the calls for Palestinian unity to destabilize the
situation in the Gaza Strip.
The first sign of Hamas’s increased
nervousness was evident last week when dozens of the movement’s undercover
police officers attacked thousands of demonstrators who were participating in a
Facebook- initiated rally to demand Palestinian unity.
At least 50
demonstrators were injured, including eight local journalists.
Saturday, Hamas again targeted journalists, raiding press offices and
confiscating cameras, laptops and other equipment.
Sources in Gaza City
said the Hamas policemen stormed the offices of CNN, Reuters and a Japanese TV
Three Palestinian journalists were beaten with clubs, the
sources said. They identified the three as Sami Abu Salem, Manal Hasan and
The Hamas crackdown on journalists is seen as an
attempt to prevent further coverage of daily protests throughout the Gaza
Hamas’s actions indicate that the movement, which has been
controlling the Gaza Strip since 2007, is afraid that the current wave of
popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world will hit the Strip.
President Mahmoud Abbas’s announcement last week that he was prepared to visit
the Gaza Strip for reconciliation talks with Hamas leaders is another source of
concern for the movement.
Hamas fears that Abbas’s visit to the Gaza
Strip would drive tens of thousands of Palestinians to take to the streets to
greet him and demand an end to the Hamas-Fatah power
Ironically, an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip will undoubtedly
ease the internal pressure on Hamas. The mortar attacks are aimed at dragging
Israel into a military offensive that is needed by Hamas to divert attention
from its problems and rally the Palestinian public behind it.