Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas unleashed his party's Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorist militia Friday, executing one person without trial and wounding and arresting dozens of others. Al Aksa said it murdered a 32-year-old Hamas loyalist from Shechem in retaliation to Hamas assassinations of Fatah terrorists in Gaza.
The bloodshed spread to Tulkarm, east of Netanya, where masked Fatah terrorists sprayed fire indiscriminately and torched a Hamas office, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency.
Abbas' terrorists also kidnapped a grocery store owner in Tulkarm, shot at two buses, set fire to a Hamas charity office and to stores and raided homes.
The US State Department said it will continue to train Abbas' elite Presidential Guard militia. American Middle East military envoy Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton said last week that reports of Hamas forces being superior to those of American-trained Fatah were incorrect. He and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently convinced American Congressmen to approve more than $60 million to help equip the Fatah militia despite the danger that Hamas might confiscate its weapons.
Hamas confiscated on Thursday and Friday a huge arsenal of rifles, grenades, ammunition and American armored personnel vehicles in Gaza. Hamas terrorists paraded in the streets of Gaza and showed off the weapons while hundreds of Fatah fighters fled to Egypt.
The State Department hurried to Abbas' side after Hamas devastated Fatah in Gaza. Secretary of State Rice said: "President Abbas has exercised his lawful authority ... We fully support him."
She telephoned Abbas to "underline the United States support for [him and] for the Palestinian moderates who have made the commitment to work with the Israeli government," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
McCormack referred to Abbas and his supporters as "advocates...with whom we are going to work.... Make no mistake about it, that the way to achieve a Palestinian state, is via the negotiating table. It is never going to be achieved via the use of violence, threats, intimidation or terrorism.... The strategy is to help build up functioning, effective, legitimate institutions of a future Palestinian state." McCormack deflected reporters' doubts about the extent of Abbas's power.
David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, stated: "The people who are moderate are not effective, and the people who are effective are not moderate."
The people who are moderate are not effective, and the people who are effective are not moderate.
Local commentators note little difference between Fatah and Hamas with regards to their designs to perpetrate attacks against Israel. It was Fatah under Yasser Arafat which signed the Oslo Accords. In the framework of the agreement, Israel authorized the transfer of thousands of rifles to Fatah, but the Israeli government documented their use in fatal terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
Both Fatah and Hamas demand the right of more than five million Arabs to immigrate to Israel as descendants of half a million Arabs who fled Israel in 1948.
One major difference between the two groups is that Fatah is a secular party. The Arabic meaning of its name is "conquest," and the word "Fatah" is also a reverse acronym for the Arabic term for the Palestinian Liberation Movement.
Another apparent difference is that Abbas outwardly accepts a two-state solution including Israel. But in practice, PA schools under his authority teach children that all of Israel is "Palestine."
The State Department has maintained that Abbas' statements are only a prelude to negotiations, but the Hamas takeover in Gaza and Hamas claims that Fatah leaders are linked with the United States will make it harder for him to live up to his "moderate" image.