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More than just a Palestinian Food Fight

By Michael Freund
3/13/2005, 12:00 AM

Clashes broke out today in Hebron, as angry Palestinian youth hurled stones and various other objects, venting their wrath at those who had dared to cross them.

Interestingly, however, the target of their fury was not Israel, nor the United States, nor even the West – but other Palestinians.

The violence occurred at Hebron University, when supporters of Fatah and Hamas clashed ahead of student government elections.

This incident is about far more than just your usual campus concerns regarding cafeteria food and the length of spring break.

The rivalry between Fatah and Hamas is heating up, with the Palestinians planning to hold legislative elections in July. Hamas is feeling increasingly emboldened, and announced over the weekend that they would formally take part in the balloting.

Apparently, the purveyors of suicide terror now sense a growing level of support for their position on the so-called “Palestinian street”, and Hamas’ leaders aim to exploit that to their advantage at the polling booth.

For those who support the planned Israeli withdrawal from Gaza – this development should be setting off alarm bells, as it underlines precisely what opponents of the move have been saying all along: namely, that an Israeli retreat will only strengthen Palestinian extremists, and encourage them to believe that their resort to violence will ultimately produce results.

Foodfight While the outcome of the Hebron University election may not actually matter much in the overall scheme of things here in the Middle East, today’s clashes should not be dismissed as a mere Palestinian food fight. If anything, they demonstrate once again just how confident and assertive Hamas feels it can be, thanks to the widespread support for its murderous ways among large sectors of the Palestinian public.

And, unfortunately, that is likely to mean that in the upcoming weeks and months, Fatah and Hamas will be competing with each other for votes by showing who is more proficient at killing innocent Israelis.