BLOG 224 November 3, 2014
The Palestinian struggle for independence has not gone well. The debacle in Gaza with Hamas getting smashed only added to the lingering frustrations. The 50 days of fighting with Israel was the third Gaza war in six years and by far the deadliest, exacting the heaviest toll so far on Gaza strip that was already in economic struggles. Entire neighborhoods were reduced to rabble. While the citizens of Gaza had voted Hamas into power, it was almost as if the Israelis were punishing them for supporting the terrorists. Being in step with Hamas proved to a terrible price to pay for their plebiscite.
The ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt called for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to replace Hamas as the civil authority. Israel wanted to make certain that funds for rebuilding did not go into rearmament and the rebuilding of invasion tunnels into Israel. Of course, attempts to create a lasting truce between Israel and Hamas will prove fruitless. On the other hand, divisions within the Palestinian camp with the PA and Hamas fighting each other may prove to be equally difficult to settle. PA state ministers entered Gaza on October 9, for the first meeting of a unity government. However, the reconciliatory rhetoric did not conceal the fact that Hamas and Fatah are locked in serious disputes.
One of the irresolvable issues has to do with money. Hamas has 40,000 unpaid employees and wants the PA to foot the bill. Unfortunately, the PA has been in an economic crisis for years. Sorry. They can’t resolve that problem.
Then, there is the rebuilding of the destroyed Gaza Strip area. Unless there is a legitimate government to oversee distribution of funds, donor countries will back away. The feud between the PA and Hamas currently makes a functioning government impossible. The result is not only that nothing happens, but the everyday Palestinian citizens are increasingly critical of the schism separating both groups.
Of course, Hamas is in a bad way. An offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ouster of Mohammad Morsi and the fall of the Brotherhood in Egypt radically cut off funding. The incessant firing of rockets at Israel did not sit well across the world. In addition, their refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist has isolated them further from international powers. The destruction of their tunnels created another crippling economic blow.
Israel killed the two Hamas operatives that kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers. Their deaths set off the assault on the Gaza Strip last spring. Surrounded by Israeli forces in, the two assailants hiding in a carpentry workshop in Hebron were gunned down trying to emerge from the building. Once again, the Palestinians lost the struggle.
Following the ceasefire, Palestinian citizens came out to walk the streets in Ramallah, but they expressed increasing frustration with failed negotiations, inept UN ventures, and the divided leadership between Hamas and the PA. It would seem that settling their conflicts with Israel or accepting Egypt’s offer of land in the Sinai would be an immediate solution to all of these problems.
Unfortunately, such available solutions seem to be too easy.