Singing in the Rain
What is the world coming to when a terrorist can't sleep in peace for fear of being kidnapped by ... rival terrorists ... in Palestine? The Christian Science Monitor describes the worries of Da'as Kanna, a Fatah militant who kidnapped and later released five Hamas men from downtown Nablus. Why? because Hamas have been kidnapping Fatah men like it was going out of style. Quid pro quo.
Kanna claims to have extracted confessions from the five abductees, but they were released several hours later as a quid pro quo for Hamas's decision to release abductees of their own in Gaza. The militant says he planned to continue the tactic of kidnapping Hamas members to use as bargaining chips.
Over the weekend, Hamas militants landed several blows to Fatah's power base in Gaza, capturing facilities throughout the north belonging to the Fatah-controlled security services of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas fighters abducted on Saturday the nephew of former Gaza security chief Mohammed Dahlan, one of dozens to be kidnapped in the violence, and on Thursday intercepted trucks believed to be carrying arms to forces loyal to Abbas. Meanwhile, Fatah fighters destroyed laboratories, lecture halls, and a library at Hamas-run Islamic University. They also attacked Gaza's A-Shifa Hospital, thought to be controlled by Hamas.
But no one in Palestine -- or in the UN -- will get too upset about murders, abductions, the destruction of universities or attacks on hospitals as long as the Jews aren't behind it, and for so long as the mayhem stays in Gaza. But if things spread to the West Bank, then things might get a little dicey.
Unlike Gaza, where the sides are thought to be evenly matched, Fatah's superiority in men and arms is undisputed in the West Bank. And yet, Fatah militants are spooked by rumors that Hamas is quietly moving to replicate its Gaza Executive Force, or tanfideyeh, in West Bank.
Bassem Ezbeidi, a Bir Zeit University political science professor, expects the Hamas-Fatah conflict to remain confined to Gaza, but cautions that a West Bank flare-up can't be ruled out. "Fatah has been very provocative by kidnapping," says Mr. Ezbeidi. "Fatah is sending a message that, 'We are strong here and we are reacting to what Hamas is doing in Gaza.' It's a war of messages"
However, Hamas has recently been operating terrorist operations out of the Ministry of Education building in Nablus, which is definitely on the West Bank. But what's the fuss? Operating attack cells out of the Ministry of Education is small potatoes compared to attacking hospitals, which nobody is upset about anyway. Besides, terrorism is a trade in certain places and there is nothing wrong with using a Ministry of Education building for apprenticeships.
Brandishing an M-16, Kanna tells how he got word that a group of masked Hamas gunmen had unleashed a round of bullets near the Nablus municipality a week ago, and fled to the Education Ministry, which is controlled by Hamas. Kanna says the Fatah gunmen attacked the ministry building because it allegedly serves as a training base for the tanfidiyeh.
Unfortunately, the escalating violence may spill over into Israel and compel the IDF to defend Jewish settlers, which is just plain wrong, or at least that's what the UN will say when the apprentices at the Ministry of Education practice their newly acquired skills on a few Jews. But then, even prominent families in Nablus are stocking up on guns and ammunition. Checklist: bottled water, canned food, DVDs, spare mortar tube and baseplate and ample rounds for same, claymores, det cord, C-4, small arms ammunition and rocket propelled grenades.
To be sure, among the West Bank's major cities, Nablus is perhaps the most notorious as a den of crime where young Fatah militants have been making their own laws long before the outbreak of widespread clashes with Hamas. Prominent Nablus families are reported to be hoarding weapons in case of an escalation of internecine violence in the West Bank.
Nothing to worry about. Except kidnapping.