Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-

Ahram Weekly

West Bank rises in solidarity with Gaza

In a surprising move, Fatah and Hamas leaders appear to have mended fences, consigning conflict between them to history and facing Israel together, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

Al-Ahram Weekly

Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank took to the streets in solidarity with their compatriots in the Gaza Strip.
Many of the protesters were affiliated with Hamas, the Islamic liberation group, which rules the Gaza Strip and is the main target of the current Israeli aggression on the coastal enclave.
Nonetheless, Fatah and other Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) factions also took part in the protests as Palestinians in general seemed united, probably for the first time in many years, in opposing the Israeli onslaught.
Protests, including clashes with Israeli occupation troops, took places in all major towns and villages including Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Jenin and Tulkarem. The protesters raised Hamas’s green banners and shouted slogans calling on the resistance to pound Israel with rockets. Some protesters headed for so-called “flash points” where they hurled stones at Israeli occupation troops guarding roadblocks and checkpoints. Interestingly, the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces didn’t seek to suppress the demonstrations.
At least three Palestinians were killed in the protests that were still continuing as time of writing Tuesday afternoon. The first was Rushdi Tamimi from the village of Bani Saleh near Ramallah and the second was a 22-year-old boy named Hamdi Fallah from Hebron. A third victim was a 20-month-old toddler who died of gas inhalation after Israeli occupation troops hurled a gas grenade inside his home at the Qalandia Refugee Camp north of Jerusalem.
As opposed to the 2008-09 Israeli onslaught, when Fatah didn’t wish Hamas well, this time Fatah boasted of its symbolic participation in repulsing the Israeli aggression. At one point, Fatah claimed that it fired an improvised rocket on Tel Aviv. However, the report seemed unauthentic.

THE AGGRESSION TARGETS US ALL: On the third day of the Israeli assault, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Palestinian people. He pointed out that the Israeli aggression was not targeting one faction but all Palestinians.
“This naked aggression is targeting our entire people and the Palestinian national enterprise.”
Abbas said Israel was trying to sabotage the Palestinian effort to seek UN recognition for Palestine as a non-member state at the international organisation. He said he had called Hamas leaders in what looked a rare expression of unity.
The PLO-PA leader, who insisted that the PLO would ask for a UN vote on the Palestinian application for a non-member status on 29 November, also suggested that the Palestinian diplomatic campaign was the right response to the Israeli aggression on Gaza.
Abbas didn’t denounce Hamas, nor did he criticise the firing of missiles from the Gaza Strip on Israeli targets. In the past, Abbas described missiles fired from the Gaza Strip on Israel as “absurd rockets”. He actually blamed Israel for the current round of violence, suggesting that Hamas and other resistance factions had been intensely involved in efforts to reach a truce with Israel prior to the murder by the Israeli army of Ahmed Al-Jabari, the de facto commander of the Ezzeddin Al-Qassam Brigades, the resistance wing of Hamas.

EREIKAT CONDEMNS ISRAEL: Palestinian negotiator Saeb Ereikat condemned Israeli targeting of civilians as well as the media organisations, calling the Israeli behaviour “clear war crimes”. “Israel accuses the Palestinians of targeting civilians, but from what we watch on TV screens, it is Israel that is murdering children by the dozens,” he said.
“Israel claims it is killing our children by mistake, but a mistake happens once, or twice or 10 times. It doesn’t happen hundreds of times, and every day and every night. Which means that targeting and murdering Palestinian civilians is a deliberate Israeli policy,” Ereikat added.
Ereikat criticised the international community for dealing with Israel with “kid gloves”. He also castigated the targeting by Israel of journalists and media outlets.
“This is not the first time that Israel has deliberately targeted journalists or buildings used by local and international media. This latest attack, and indeed the wider Israeli aggression against our people in Gaza, has been permitted by the impunity afforded to Israel by the international community.
“This attack on journalists and freedom of expression reflects Israel’s disdain for international law and the little value it affords the lives of Palestinians.”

POSSIBLE INTIFADA LOOMING: Some Palestinian analysts have argued that the Israeli aggression on Gaza is bound to weaken Fatah and the PA in the eyes of the Palestinian public.
Khalil Shahin, a leftist political analyst based in Ramallah, predicted that the West Bank was poised for a new Intifada or uprising, given the total paralysis of the peace process and failure of the Ramallah leadership to check Israeli arrogance and settlement expansion.
He pointed out that the Israeli war on Gaza underscored the ineptitude of the PA political efforts.
“There is a lot of frustration and disillusionment in the West Bank. My impression is that the West Bank is probably moving towards a sort of Intifada.”
A few weeks ago, Abbas said in interview with Israeli television that as long as he remained chairman of the PA, he wouldn’t allow the outbreak of a new Intifada.
In addition to the moral and emotional solidarity with Gazans, the PA has sent or is about to send a large shipment of medicine to the Strip to meet the mounting need for medicine in light of the huge number of injuries, particularly among civilians.
A team of a dozen doctors led by the PA Minister of Health Hani Abdeen has also left from the West Bank for Gaza via Egypt.
Moreover, moderate Fatah leader Nabil Shaath, himself a Gaza citizen, also arrived in Gaza to coordinate rescue and humanitarian efforts. PA Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki was also slated to arrive in Gaza, accompanied by the foreign minister of Turkey and a number of Arab foreign ministers.
It is unknown at this point whether these diplomatic activities are connected with ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire.
On Monday, 20 November, Fatah leader Jebril Rajoub said Fatah and Hamas were getting as close to each other as ever before. He added that the rift between the two factions now belonged to history.

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