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Riots in Gaza as Fatah laments 'The Big Punishment'

The Jerusalem Post takes a look at the current mindset among the stunned Fatah leaders in an article titled "Fatah leaders reeling from 'the big punishment'". The leaders should not be stunned.

There are news reports currently on the cable networks of riots in Gaza, including angry mobs outside Mahmoud Abbas' (Abu Mazen) home demanding that he resign. The crowd has now dispersed from around Abbas' home and seem to be making their way towards the Palestinian Leadership Council headquarters, where cars are already burning in the streets.

There have also been reports of armed clashes already between Fatah and Hamas.

If Fatah leaders think the election results amounts to 'The Big Punishment', they have short-ranged vision. The Big Punishment will come in the form of reaction to a PA led by a terrorist organization like Hamas. They have yet to feel the punishment that awaits the first Hamas-sponsored act of terrorism.


No one should be surprised by the Fatah loss. It is possible that the voters were simply tired of all of the corruption and payoffs from Arafat on forward, and this was not necessarily a vote for Hamas, the terrorist organization, but a vote for change.

Of course, I doubt that Hamas is devoid of corruption, and certainly, I can't foresee Hamas suddenly giving up their suicide belts and bombs. Does anyone really expect that to happen? I don't.

But the other question is what did the U.S. government expect to see as a result in the election? Certainly someone had to consider the possibility that Hamas might win, either outright or in a number of the districts. While the early exit polls had Fatah winning, it turned out that Hamas won 76 seats compared to 43 for Fatah.

Finally, I wouldn't look to the UN to broker a peaceful transition in the Middle East. It remains the job of the United States, Great Britain and any of the other supposedly influential countries to try to quell what I suspect will be an uptick in violence.

Democratization is a good thing (77% voter turnout is great), as long as we all recognize that we cannot control the outcome, and have to live with the results (in this case, Hamas winning the election).

Hamas in power removes the double-dealing that existed with Fatah. Fatah proclaimed one thing in English, something else in Arabic, and got buy-in from the European bureaucrats.

Hamas is more likely to draw "bright lines".


The Hamas election victory might not be a bad thing. They will now have to form a government. That means infrastructure, a bureacracy, and a public presence. This would make them an easier target for Israel should terroism continue----time will tell.

Is this some sort of grand design by Israel for the ultimate victory? By withdrawing from Gaza , without any reciprocity from the Palestinians, Israel made Hamas look good and essentially gave the impression that terroism gets results. No doubt this helped Hamas win a majority in the Palestinian parliament and puts a terroistic organization in charge. One terroistic episode that can be laid at the feet of Hamas will see an overwhelming response from Israel that could be the equal of a biblical vanquishing of the enemy!

Barry...no, Hamas is a designated terrorist organization. Any U.S. funding will be cut-off.

I doubt that Israel had a "grand design for victory" by paving any path for Hamas to win. As bad as Fatah was, it was clearly the lesser of two evils, and at least, there was a possibility of negotiation toward peace. Hamas' charter and its deeds simply want to see Israel driven into the Sea.

Clearly Israel has military and technological might on its side (although it clearly does not have world opinion on its side, at least not totally). As much as I'd like to think differently, I cannot see a good outcome in the near-term.

Steve/Bill/Marvin may disagree, but I simply don't see Hamas suddenly stopping suicide attacks simply because they've won the election. The other issue is how they will be able to govern, given the lack of funds. I've read somewhere (don't remember where) that without U.S. aid, the government is nearly broke.

More next week. We'll see when, or if, a first post election terror attack occurs.

Some people actually think that Hamas didn't anticipate winning. Well, they did. And right now, Palestinians loyal to Yasser Arafat's demoralized Fatah party marched on the seats of power to vent their outrage. Fatah payoffs and graft are in jeopardy. Peace is in jeopardy.

"Unintended consequences."

One more point...

Shlomo Avineri

"It was not only the endemic corruption of the official Palestinian leadership that turned so many Palestinians away. Hamas set up better schools, kindergartens, crèches for mothers, medical centres, welfare services, and programmes for youth and women — all of this in addition to giving special grants to the families of suicide bombers."

Steve does not disagree SW, and is fairly comfortable speaking for Marvin and Bill that they concur...Hamas will not suddenly stop suicide attacks (or other attacks) on Israel.

Hamas did back off a bit in the run-up to the elections and in recognition of the informal truce arrangement.

Now that they have won, what they do is anyone's guess. But abolishing terrorist attacks on Israel will not be one of them.

Expect them to be boistrous, yet with limited offensive tactical activity in the short term. It will not last, even if there are those within Hamas who would want it to last.

Hamas is Hamas. It's terrorists are terrorists.

Israel withdrew from Gaza unilaterally, and are expected to do the same with much of the West Bank. They also encouraged the Palestinian elections, Hamas participation objections notwithstanding.

The whole situation reminds me of the story of the hunter and the snake...

A hunter was walking a hedge row one wintery day when he stumbled upon a snake, frozen stiff in the snow.

The hunter picked up the snake and brought him back to his home and placed him in front of his fireplace to warm. Miraculously, after a while, the snake began to move. The hunter brought in some water and food.

The snake ate and drank and continued to warm, gradually recovering. Feeling relieved and anxious to hold him, the hunter picked up the snake in his arms and began stroking his scales to warm him more as he slithered around his arm.

Suddenly, the snake shot at his hand and bit the hunter, sinking his fangs into his flesh.

Stunned, the hunter looked at the snake and said, "I saved you life! You were left for dead, frozen. I brought you into my home, warmed you and fed you and cared for you. Why did you strike me?!?"

The snake simple pulled back his head, looked at the hunter and deadpanned, "You knew I was a snake when you picked me up."

Steve: I pretty much figured y'all would agree.

But the end result of this is that Israel is in a "no win" condition. Apply game theory to the situation.

If, at every turn, the "snake" (Hamas) will bite at the hand of Israel, then what is Israel to do? They are surrounded by countries and entities that want to return to the map of 1947 or earlier.

If Hamas attacks and Israel reacts (as I expect, 10-fold) then what we have is a flare-up backed of untold consequences and, as you noted, backed by Iran, that cannot have a good result for the people of the region, even if Israel prevails.

All very interesting and for the most part very astute commentary. Remember back to the early days of the PLO when Fatah was the dominant party and their charter called for the demise of Israel with earlier terror tactics. In time their postion allegedly modified to some reproach with Israel. Now, we have Hamas in charge and to re-phrase an old film, "Ahead to the Past." Hamas starts out much as Fatah did, but will time assuage their vehement anti-Israel position---I don't know, but this is certainly fodder for the pundits----keep it coming boys and girls.


I think that one big difference is that rapprochement with Hamas will be longer in coming and alot harder to reach...I believe that the radical element of Hamas is alot stronger and dominant than the supposedly "humanitarian" element. To that end, I feel that the violence has not ended. I also suspect that Hamas' position, given the passage of time, is alot more hardened than that of Fatah. Also, I maintain that the implications of the attacks of Sept. 11th are still being played out.

And of "for the most part" and "fodder for the pundits" I wonder how much the pundits really know.

Opinions are opinions. Sometimes the opinions are "dead-on" and other times, they aren't. I'm no "expert" but I know that I read a tremendous amount of information everyday about terrorism and related issues. What makes a "pundit" a "pundit" except for broadcasting (or broadbanding) of their opinions?

In spite of my glib comment: "Ahead to the Past", there is a major difference; another joker in the deck. And that joker is Iran, which is looking to reclaim the glory of Persia by becoming the dominant Islamic country in the Middle East and they may not be that far off! How they will play their hand remains to be seen. It will be touch and go for the forseeable future. The present president of Iran knows how to stir the pot and with his claim to be awaiting the Mahdi anything is possible.

While I don't particularly care for Rush Limbaugh, he may be right that the only hope for an extended period of peace in the Middle East is for one side to deliver a mortal blow.


Not only don't I "care for Rush" but I consider him and his views "pollution."

As for the "mortal blow," IMO, that cannot bode well for Israel, regardless of what entity wields that blow.

I think that Walid Pheres' point of view on CT Blog represents quite an interesting analysis.


Hamas also has now exposed a view that it wants Israel to retreat to the pre-1967 borders.


I believe that compromise has been proposed by Israel before, and rejected. And I wonder, after the pre-1967 borders whether the pre-1948 borders or "pre-1920" border will follow.

This, IMO, is a "no-win" situation for Israel. While not my favorite commentator, Pat Buchanan commented today, essentially that "war" is on the horizon.

Here's another perspective from Volokh.


After the election of Hitler, many people in the West hoped that Hitler's party, faced with the responsibility of governing, would moderate itself, and turn away from its promise to make everyone, particularly Jews, submit to its totalitarian ideology. These same people hope that although Hitler's party is explicitly founded on the promise of total war until total victory, the party in power will recognize the rights of its enemies to peaceful co-existence and to control of areas which Hitler's party claims as its national birthright.

Extra hint: many of the apologists for Hitler's party blame the rise of the party on the provocations of Jews.

IMO, this cannot turn out well for Israel. Time will tell and prove me right or wrong.


Thank you for the links----good background and very illuminating.

Pheres has covered all bases and if the CNN report is accurate and al-Zahar has made an overture for an extended truce (with provisos), then a dialogue may have started for who knows who's talking to whom? The sticking point will be Jerusalem. I read a report today that said a good majority of Palestinian women voted for Hamas candidates. Interesting, n'ce pas?

al-Zahar has made an overture for nothing. Caveat Emptor.

It is called Taqiyya.

Read carefully.

As Steve wrote, I don't trust anything about any discussion of "peace" with Hamas. Elsewhere on TW, I wrote, "hudna hoo-ey" because Hamas, until they give up on driving Israel into the Sea can be nothing but a terrorist organization, regardless of the so-called humanitarian things they do.

The 1967 border pull-back has been on the table before and has ultimately been rejected (they want more). Hamas now has a problem. They're at the front...they're the government.

Geez, what a bunch of pessimists. As I said previously, when Hamas forms a government then they'll have infrastructure and institutions all very exposed ---would they risk a battle?? And besides they only have one friend, Iran and Iran, inspite of the bravado, is under serious pressure from Russia and China to cool things down. Hamas, being a fundamentalist Islamic organization, is not particularly appreciated by the surrounding secular Arab dictatorships who dread a fundamentalist uprising.


If you "Google" Israel right now you'll get headlines like:

Bush Says US Would Defend Israel Militarily


"Hamas says Israel has opened 'gates of hell'"




"Bush: Palestinian state impossible unless Hamas recognizes Israel"

I would suggest that what you characterize as "pessimism" is more like "realism." The problem that faces the Middle East today is that Hamas, despite its humanitarian aspects still has a Charter that calls for the obliteration of Israel.

That alone, can only lead to a "bad outcome."

Iran has alot more influence over this than Russia or China.

Which comes first? A real and lasting truce, or the first (and second or even third) terrorist bombing from the PA territories? How about the riots in Gaza?

"Watch and wait."


I should have guessed that your ID precludes your views! All those headlines are rhetoric and posturing meant to intimidate. As long as both sides remain firm---it's a stand-off and with stand-offs people start to talk. However, I agree that things could turn dire if one side sees an advantage or believes time is of the essence and then makes a calculating decision like in '67.

It's interesting that for decades the US thwarted democratically elected regines who were socialistic/communistic and supported dictators as long as they were anti-communists, i.e. Central and South America, SE Asia, and even Iran in the days before the Shah. Now we come to "Palestine" and a regime is democratically elected that is no friend----what to do?
Like they say, watch what you wish for----you might just get it!