Could this be the start of the long-feared Palestinian civil war?First question. Who fears a Palestinian civil war? Long predicted maybe. Likely to be tragic for the Palestinians, probably. But I don't see that it causes anyone who isn't a palestinian any fear. In fact it may cause a good deal of relief amongst those people who otherwise fear attack by Palestinian terrorists.
The fighting going on across Gaza has reached a new intensity, while ceasefires come and go.Maybe we could rewrite this "The fighting going on across Gaza has reached a new intensity, with no one paying any attention to ceasefires announced by the people who are supposed to be in charge.
The sound of automatic gunfire is echoing round the deserted streets of Gaza City. A few civilians scurry for cover. Only the hospitals are doing brisk business.How brisk? Other BBC reports indicate about 23 deaths and that means, I'm guessing, about a hundred wounded at the most. This is not really a large amount of casualties for something billed as "the start of a long-feared civil war".
The latest clashes began after Hamas fighters ambushed a Fatah convoy on Thursday. Hamas said the convoy was bringing in weapons from Egypt.
Fatah then attacked, and briefly occupied, the Islamic University in Gaza, a Hamas stronghold. Fatah said Hamas was using it to store weapons, and claimed it captured a number of Iranians supporting Hamas.
So far no evidence has been produced for any of these inflammatory accusations.Actually one accusation is rather more inflamatoriy than the other. Fatah bringing in arms is pretty much standard practice and could even be officially sanctioned by other relevant groups sich as Egypt, Israel and the USA. On the other hand the claim that Iranians have been training Hamas in secret on the grounds of a university (Blowup U?) is rather more sensational.
Egypt has openly blamed Hamas, for the first time, for breaking the ceasefire. It is hard to see how Hamas can now trust Egypt to continue its mediation efforts.Err well one could write that second sentences differently too. "It is hard to see how Egypt can put any trust in Hamas keeping any promises it makes it futire mediation efforts"
The fighting is between members of the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls the Palestinian government, and members of the more secular Fatah faction, whose leader is the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
It is a struggle for power, a struggle, perhaps, for the future direction of the Palestinian government.
But at the moment it seems as much an expression of the pent-up frustration of a people whose plight gets steadily worse.God forbid that one might point the finger of blame at any cause of why their "plight gets steadily worse". Gaza has been left to the Palestinians to govern and the phrase "pigs ear" would seem to sum up their success. The two factions seem unable to do that but rather squabble about the spoils of government and in the process ignore completely the people on whose behalf they are supposedly fighting. For some reason the BBC can't quite seem to mention these little details. When the Israelis quit they left behind agricultural infrastructure that could have been used as the basis for a business, the new management however preferred to trash it all and send rockets into Israel instead of growing fruit and veg.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are all trying to mediate.
A failed ceasefire agreed earlier this week was negotiated jointly by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Egyptians maintain a permanent presence in Gaza City. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia roundly condemned the fighting earlier this week.
But there are suspicions of less helpful outside intervention as well.
The United States has been giving increasing support to the forces loyal to Mr Abbas, though it denies supplying arms. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the two main mediators, are strong American allies.
So Hamas may feel the game is stacked against them.Oh you have to love that. The US is suspected of less helpful outside intervention while those alleged Iranians are merely Islamic scholars over on an ecumenical exchange visit. No mention of the reason why the US might be upset with Hamas either, you know the statements like "the only good Jew is a dead Jew" and "we will destroy Israel" that Hamas seems so keen to make. Not to mention its less than stellar record of adhering to previous agreements (see above). Hamas act like a bunch of murderous, psychopathic liars and the BBC seems to think that this is no bar to being treated as a serious negotiating partner.
Hamas believe it is just another example of how the outside world refuses to accept the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections a year ago.So you are elected (in an election of somewhat dubious reliability anyway) on a platform of "we will destroy Israel and Abbas is a Zionist lackey" and then act surprised when people who think that Israel actually has a right to exist in peace with its neighbours are upset.
They fear Mr Abbas is trying to take over the Palestinian government, as a prelude, perhaps, even to a negotiated peace with Israel.
So this has become the latest arena for the wider and bitter struggle between Islamists and more secular Arabs, between those supported by Iran and those more sympathetic to the West.Ohh look, down here we see that Iran is supporting a faction, and guess what, maybe you should inform your colleague Jim Muir that Iran is supporting the extremist faction. Hey why not mention that up above in the "less helpful outsde intervention" section? Oh and why exactly is a negotiated peace with Israel a bad thing? Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought that "a negotiated peace with Israel" was the necessary and sufficient condition for peace to break out throughout the Arab world. At least from what I've read elsewhere on the BBC that appars to be the belief.
There is nothing glamorous about the chaos on the streets of Gaza.
Already the outside world seems almost to have lost interest. Many ordinary Israelis are rubbing their hands with glee, though anarchy on their border may not necessarily be something for them to celebrate.
And although officials say a new ceasefire deal has been agreed between the rival factions, it could still get very much worse.So, umm let me recap. We have a group that is known to be less than honourable when it signs treaties, wants the destruction of Israel and the imposition of fundamentalist Islam. Oh and it is supported by Iran, the nation that just held a Holocaust denial conference and which is devloping nuclear technology for "peaceful purposes". But the fact that country this organization is supposed to be ruling is sliding in to total anarchy is not their fault and is, by implication, the fault of hte hard hearted Israelis "who are rubbing their hands with glee".