The Happy Arab News Service

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Anbar Strip

Avi Issacharoff from Haaretz paints a bleak picture of the current situation in the Gaza strip. Gaza is awash with weapons:

There is a tremendous amount of weaponry in the inhabitants' homes, the entire purpose of which is a potential quarrel with a neighbor, an acquaintance or a driver on the road.

More than 100,000 armed men are roaming the strip according to various estimates, and most of them do not necessarily belong to the security apparatus or Fatah/Hamas armed wings. The clans took control over the strip.

People are killed almost daily and wounded every day. Four cases of honor killings were reported over last months but the number is apparently higher, many murdered women buried in secret by their families.

The diverse bunch of militancy is nicely supplemented by Salafi style fundamentalist groups who lead the way in attacks on Christian and Western targets. The guys bombed dozens of Internet cafes recently as well as a church library and the American school. And the Palestinian leadership is as useful as always:

The Palestinian leadership, as usual, is impotent. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is on trips abroad, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh cannot influence the disarming of the militias and Hamas leader Khaled Mashal has also lost the ability to exert full control over the organization's armed men. Mashal and Abu Mazen are continuing to discuss the reform in the PLO at a time when it is clear to everyone that both groups need to forbid at once the bearing of arms by anyone who is not a member of a security organization. However, neither Hamas nor Fatah would dare demand that the people in their military wings lay down their arms. The Gaza Strip has new leaders; clan chiefs like Mumtaz Durmush. There is no force in the Gaza Strip that dares to enter a confrontation with the Durmush clan, even though it is responsible for Afghanistan-style killings, kidnappings and more.


While large chunks of the region may soon go the way of Yugoslavia and some have already did (Iraq), the Palestinians convincingly demonstrate how it's possible to disintegrate to even smaller pieces than ethnic identities and sectarian affiliations. The surrealism of the situation is reinforced by the silence of the world and the media, including the Palestinian one, who play into a 'business as usual' situation. The human rights organizations and NGO's went to tend for easier 'victims'. The US and Israel are busy 'strengthening' the hands of the 'moderate' Abbas against Hamas, while Hamas is frenetically smuggling weapons and digging Hezbollah style bunkers and tunnels. The world is discussing latest peace initiatives and holding summits. Meanwhile Gaza is turning into one big Anbar province. And probably it has become one already.


The Jerusalem Post

May. 4, 2007

Egypt has expressed newfound interest in allowing Israel to construct a moat along the Philadelphi Route separating the Sinai Desert from the Gaza Strip to combat Palestinian weapons smuggling, senior defense officials have told The Jerusalem Post.

The Philadelphi Route is riddled with as many as 30 active tunnels used by Palestinian terror groups to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip.

In 2006, for example, 30 tons of high-grade explosives were smuggled into Gaza through the tunnels, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) claims.

. . .

. . .

In 2004, the Israeli Defense Ministry issued a tender for the digging of the moat along the border. The specifications given at the time were that the ditch would be four kilometers long, 25 meters deep and 100 meters wide.

The purpose of the moat would be to force weapons smugglers to tunnel deeper and longer, which would be more difficult and make it easier for the IDF to detect. The cost of the project is estimated to be tens of millions of shekels.


Gaza seems to be not only disintegrating, but getting progressively more isolated. There were several reports recently of terror plots in Egypt initiated from inside the strip. In the face of such developments both Israel and Egypt appear to be barricading themselves from Gaza or better barricading all approaches to Gaza from their side.

Egypt does not fancy itself with the idea to move in to restore the order. The next Israeli government may finally get some common sense and purchase a few units of SkyGuard, an anti missile defense laser developed by Northrop Grumman, to stem the Kassam attacks and to reduce the need to regularly invade the strip. Gaza may soon find itself left on its own, a simmering hornet's nest which, apart from occasional visits by the IDF, nobody dares to touch.



May. 6, 2007

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip

Palestinians open fire on UN school

Palestinian militants opened fire near a children's festival at a UN-operated elementary school in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing a bodyguard of a local Fatah leader and wounding seven other people, medical officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But Muslim extremists had earlier visited the school, warning authorities not to hold the festival, UN and security officials said. They also issued a warning on Saturday.

It was not clear why the extremists objected to the event, at the school in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, or whether they were behind the shooting, the officials said. The gunmen were masked, making identification difficult, security officials said.

. . .

. . .

Fatah and the Islamic militant group Hamas formed a coalition government in March aimed at ending months of Palestinian infighting.

While the sides have largely halted their attacks on each other, Gaza continues to be plagued by clan violence, kidnappings and other crime. The violence has included a string of attacks on Internet cafes, music stores and restaurants by Islamic extremists.


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