Increased signs of anti-Hamas 'intifada' in Gaza

Fatah official: "The countdown for bringing the Hamas regime down has begun."

Fatah demo Gaza 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Fatah demo Gaza 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
There are increasing indications that Fatah is trying to organize an intifada against Hamas, as Fatah members in the Gaza Strip try to snap out of what one commander termed a state of "depression" following their defeat at the hands of Hamas in June. Abu Haroun, commander of the Abu Rish Brigades in the Gaza Strip, said over the weekend it would take a long time before Fatah recovered from the humiliating defeat. He said Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and top Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan were both to blame for the collapse of the Fatah-controlled PA security forces in the Strip. Nonetheless, over the past two weeks, Fatah supporters have twice clashed with Hamas militiamen following Friday prayers. Some Palestinians regard the street protests as a sign that Fatah is trying to regain control over the Gaza Strip. Fatah officials expressed deep satisfaction with the anti-Hamas demonstrations. They denied, however, that the protests had been organized by Fatah, saying they were spontaneous and reflected the growing discontent with Hamas among Gazans. Ahmed Abdel Rahman, a senior Fatah leader and close aide to Abbas, said the demonstrations were meant to send a message to Hamas that it must cancel its "bloody coup." He said the events in the Gaza Strip also sent a message to the world that the majority of the Palestinians were opposed to the Hamas takeover. Another Fatah official, Fahmi Za'areer, said the protests showed that the Palestinians were fed up with Hamas. "The countdown for bringing the Hamas regime down has begun," he said. "We expect the protests against Hamas to escalate in the coming weeks." Hamas leaders said they did not rule out the possibility that Fatah members would resort to an "armed struggle" against the Islamist movement. They added that there was growing evidence that Fatah was preparing for armed attacks on Hamas figures and institutions. They also noted that over the weekend Hamas militiamen discovered a weapons factory inside the house of a former Fatah security commander in the Strip. Fatah warlord Abu Haroun admitted that his men were depressed and angry. He said he and many colleagues were working hard to "boost the morale of our fighters." "It hasn't been easy for us because what happened last June was a big shock for us. It was a psychological blow. Our mother organization, Fatah, collapsed and this was too much for us." Like many Fatah members, Abu Haroun blamed Abbas and Dahlan for the defeat. "President Abbas made too many mistakes," he said. "The biggest mistake was the Mecca Accord [on a PA unity government with Hamas], because he came closer to Hamas, and not vice versa. That's why he lost in the end." Abu Haroun said another mistake Abbas made was to appoint Dahlan as his national security adviser. "Our security forces lost the battle because they lacked motivation and because they were too lazy," he said. "They also lost because someone like Dahlan was in charge of the security forces and all the armed wings of Fatah. Dahlan has been a total failure and that's how many see him." According to Abu Haroun, who has been forced to keep a low profile since the Hamas takeover, the PA security forces in the Gaza Strip did not fight because they did not feel there was anything worth fighting for. "Our security forces lost the battle even before it started," he said. "The morale of the security officers was very low and many of them never opened fire at Hamas. In fact, many security officers and policemen stopped showing up for work days and weeks before the Hamas takeover."