Palestinian academic wants commission to say who won in Gaza, as Fatah-Hamas verbal war escalates.
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Scoffing at Hamas's claim that it emerged victorious from the war in the Gaza Strip, a prominent Palestinian academic and writer called on the Islamist movement to learn from the Israelis and form a Palestinian "Winograd Committee" to examine the group's performance.
"We want Hamas to form a Gazan Winograd," wrote Ahmed Abu Matar, referring to the commission that examined the government and IDF performance during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
"We want this commission of inquiry to be as brave and daring as the Israeli one," he wrote, in an article published on a number of Fatah-run media outlets. "We want the commission to tell us whether we have achieved a new divine victory or have added another defeat to our record."
The academic's remarks are seen in the context of a fierce war of words between Hamas and Fatah, which intensified after the military offensive ended.
Over the weekend, a number of top Fatah and Palestinian Authority representatives reiterated allegations that Hamas was stealing aid from convoys that are being dispatched to the Gaza Strip. They also accused Hamas of escalating its massive crackdown on Fatah by continuing to shoot members of the faction in the legs.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official and close adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed that Hamas had turned mosques into detention centers for interrogating and torturing Fatah activists.
Hamas, for its part, accused the PA leadership of waging an "all-out war" against Hamas members and supporters in the West Bank.
Ismail al-Ashqar, a Hamas legislator in the Gaza Strip, said that Abbas and a "group of Zionist Fatah leaders" in Ramallah have taken upon themselves the task of fighting against Hamas in the West Bank.
He condemned Abbas and his senior aides as "hypocrites and thieves" who had no right to represent the Palestinians or speak on their behalf.
Abu Matar, who was born in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, also launched a scathing attack on Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who was quoted during Operation Cast Lead as saying that all Hamas wanted was to provoke Israel a bit and that he had not expected Israel's harsh response.
Abu Matar said that Mashaal's remarks reminded him of similar statements made by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah during the Second Lebanon War. Then, Nasrallah was quoted as saying that he was caught by surprise by Israel's decision to go to war following the killing and kidnapping of IDF soldiers along the border with Lebanon.
"The question now is when will we see a Gazan Winograd?" Abu Matar wrote.
"I'm deliberately saying 'Gazan' and not 'Palestinian' because this war was between Hamas, which staged a coup in June 2007 and liberated the Gaza Strip from Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, and Israel. As such, Hamas is responsible for the 1.5 million Palestinians during war and peace."
The academic said that Hamas should have been aware of the fact that Israel would not bless its takeover of the Gaza Strip and would punish the movement.
"In spite of this, Hamas launched its coup, calling it the second liberation of the Gaza Strip [after the Israeli withdrawal in 2005]."
Accusing Hamas of establishing a repressive dictatorship in the Gaza Strip, Abu Matar held Hamas responsible for the death and persecution of many Palestinians. He pointed out that some 150 Fatah members and leaders had fled to Israel a few months before the war after being targeted by Hamas.
The sad irony, he remarked, is that at a certain stage Palestinians considered the Israeli occupation to be more "merciful" than Hamas's paramilitary and much-feared Executive Force in the Gaza Strip.
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