June 23, 2009:
Al Hayat Al Jadida, a pro-Fatah Palestinian newspaper, recently reported that Hamas is using the ill, women and children to smuggle cash into the West Bank (usually from Jordan.) Such a scam is not surprising for Hamas, which considers itself on a Mission From God and thus authorized to do whatever it takes. What is surprising to outsiders is how frequently Hamas and Fatah expose each other's skullduggery. That's because both Fatah and Hamas see each other as more dangerous enemies than Israel, and are even willing to sacrifice the reputations of Palestinians in general, to further their partisan goals.
Since 2007, when the Hamas movement won the majority of seats in the Palestinian government, the loser, Fatah, has refused to recognize the election, and has maintained control of the West Bank, where Fatah supporters outnumbered those of Hamas. The Fatah government in the West Bank sent police to roundup Hamas activists. Hamas protested, and said these actions would hurt unity talks. But Fatah believes Hamas is out to be the sole leader of the Palestinians, and the "peace talks" are just another propaganda event for both organizations. The new Fatah police force was created to reduce the power of the criminal gangs, terrorist groups and Hamas. In Gaza, Hamas has responded in a similar fashion, rounding up, jailing, and often murdering Fatah activists.
The Hamas takeover in Gaza simply makes official the differences which have long distinguished Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians from the 2.5 million in the West Bank. While Gaza is mostly a collection of refugee camps, the West Bank consists largely of people who have lived there for generations. The Gaza population is younger, poorer, more resentful and more militant. To many Palestinians, Gaza is part of Egypt, a giant refugee camp that the Egyptians won't take responsibility for. Instead, the UN and European aid groups to deal with the needs of the destitute population. Egypt, meanwhile, sees Hamas control of Gaza as a threat, because of Hamas support for Islamic terrorists. Egypt already believes there is a Gaza connection with Islamic terrorist attacks in Egypt. It's also no secret that Egyptian smuggling gangs are doing a thriving business supplying Gaza with weapons, and some of those weapons, including several tons of explosives a month, ends up in the hands of terrorists.
Hamas keeps this going by smuggling cash into Gaza and the West Bank. They have difficulty doing this because so many Palestinians are willing to inform on any new tactics either group, particularly Hamas, comes up with. This destructive spiral simply makes it more difficult to form a united Palestinian government, and negotiate a peace deal with Israel.