Analysis: Another nail in the coffin for Fatah

Hamas has one more challenge to face: the notorious Dughmush clan, also based in Gaza City.

hamas gaza badass 224 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
hamas gaza badass 224 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas scored yet another victory over the weekend when Fatah's last stronghold in the Gaza Strip succumbed following a massive security operation in the Shajayieh neighborhood. When Hamas took full control over the Gaza Strip more than a year ago, it refrained from disarming many Fatah militias and clans that refrained from openly challenge the Islamist movement. But after the explosion that killed five Hamas men and a seven year-old-girl on June 25, Hamas changed its policy and began confiscating weapons from Fatah groups, first and foremost the faction's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. The massive crackdown that began immediately after the explosion reached its peak on Saturday, when a large Hamas security force raided Gaza City's Shajayieh neighborhood with the aim of arresting men involved in the bombing. The suspects, all members of Fatah, were said to have found shelter with the powerful Hilles clan, which had established its own "security zone" in the neighborhood. In the beginning, the clan's men vowed to fight to the end, but by the evening most had surrendered to Hamas. Hamas has hailed the operation as a significant step toward asserting its exclusive control over the Gaza Strip. The venture's success also demonstrates that Fatah is as far as ever from achieving its goal of regaining control over the Gaza Strip. Ever since its humiliating defeat by Hamas in June 2007, Fatah has been unable to regroup and reestablish strong bases of power throughout Gaza. The crackdown on the Hilles clan and Fatah militias is designed to send a message that Hamas will no longer tolerate a situation where an armed Palestinian faction or clan operates as a state-within-a-state in the Strip. Now that the Hilles stronghold has collapsed, Hamas has one more challenge to face: the notorious Dughmush clan, also based in Gaza City. The Dughmushes, who are behind the tiny terrorist group the Army of Islam, have long posed a major challenge to Hamas. Hamas is convinced that the explosion that killed five of its men was part of a larger scheme by Fatah to trigger chaos in the Strip. According to some Hamas officials, Israel and the US are continuing to work with a number of Fatah operatives to overthrow the Hamas regime in Gaza. Given this, Hamas considers its latest achievement not only as a victory over another rebellious clan in Gaza City, but as a major blow to all those who were hoping that the movement was on its way to crumbling due to the ongoing blockade and economic sanctions.