Ezra HaLevi & Hana Levi Julian / IsraelNN.com & Khaled Abu Toameh / The Jerusalem Post & Christopher Brauchli / CounterPunch.org – 2008-04-29 21:10:10
US Supplies Fatah With Arms
Ezra HaLevi & Hana Levi Julian / IsraelNN.com
TEL AVIV (25 Nissan 5768, April 30, 2008) — Thousands of M-16 assault rifles, made in the US, were delivered to Fatah forces in Judea and Samaria as part of the effort to strengthen Abbas in his opposition to Hamas leader and Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Fatah is the political party headed by the late terrorist chieftain Yasser Arafat. The Al-Aksa Brigades terror group operates under its authority.
According to PA security sources quoted by the Middle East Newsline (MENL), “The weapons are meant for PA forces but they end up with Fatah in the war against Hamas.” The deal, meant to increase Abu Mazen’s power in the struggle for control of the PA government, was approved by Israel.
The two factions have been fighting bitter clashes in Gaza, leading to speculation that a civil war may ultimately hit the streets. The Hamas terror organization is currently the majority faction in the PA after winning January 2006 elections in a landslide victory against Fatah.
The victory at the polls, however, led to a loss at the bank; international funding dried up as a result of the new regime. Hamas has continued to resist international pressure to force the terror organization to officially acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence and uphold peace agreements signed by the previous Fatah-led PA government.
The latest efforts by Qatari officials to build a unity government of Hamas and Fatah failed after Hamas once again insisted on maintaining its refusal to officially recognize the Jewish State. In the wake of that failure, Abbas again threatened to disband the current PA government and call for early elections.
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‘Hamas Using US Weapons against IDF’
Khaled Abu Toameh / The Jerusalem Post
JERUSALEM (March 3, 2008) — According to Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip, most of the gunmen who have been fighting the IDF over the past few days are members of Hamas’s armed wing, Izaddin Kassam. “At least 2,000 Hamas gunmen have been deployed in the northern Gaza Strip to take part in the fighting,” the sources told The Jerusalem Post.
The sources estimated that Izaddin Kassam has at least 15,000 members divided into four brigades in the Gaza Strip. They added that the Hamas gunmen were using many American-made arms seized from the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority security forces in June.
Hamas says it captured thousands of M-16 and Kalashnikov rifles, and large supplies of ammunition during its weeklong conquest of Gaza. Hamas is also believed to have acquired weapons capable of penetrating armor and stockpiles of rocket-propelled grenades.
A senior Hamas official said Sunday that his movement had smuggled hundreds of rockets and mortars and tons of explosives into the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the past few months. The Hamas-dominated police force in the Gaza Strip, which has around 15,000 members, has not been involved in the fighting, although the IDF has targeted some of its bases.
Hamas has been careful not to send the police force to the battlefield so as to avoid a total breakdown of its official institutions. The policemen are needed by Hamas to maintain law and order and to thwart any attempt by rival groups such as Fatah from taking advantage of the security deterioration to topple the Hamas government.
Other groups that are involved in the fighting include Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and some splinter factions belonging to Fatah’s armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.
These three groups, which according to Palestinian sources are operating in coordination with Hamas, have also been behind many of the rocket attacks on Israel in the past few days. Altogether, the three groups have fewer than 1,500 gunmen in Gaza. But Hamas has sought to play down the role of the other armed groups in the fighting in the hope that it will score points on the “Palestinian street” as the major force that fought “courageously” against Israel. Hamas is hoping that once the fighting is over, it will be able to declare “victory, as Hizbullah did after the war in 2006.”
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When In Doubt, Start Another Civil War
Why Bush is Selling Arms to Fatah
Christopher Brauchli / CounterPunch.org
(January 25, 2007) — There’s one thing George Bush knows. You don’t get to be the biggest arms merchant in the world by only selling arms to friends. If that were the case the only countries to which we’d sell arms would be countries like Great Britain and Canada and they’re not going to buy enough to keep us in first place. And it’s not Mr. Bush’s fault that he doesn’t know that there is a history in the United States of selling arms to people who have ended up using the arms against the United States. After all, it’s hard enough for him to keep up with what’s going on right now.
If he knew history, he’d know that in the 1980s the United States sold Iran 12,000 anti-tank missiles, 235 Hawk missiles and 200 Phoenix air-to-air missiles costing more than $1 million each. He’d recall that when we thought Mr. bin Laden was our friend for trying to kick the Soviets out of Afghanistan (a country to which we are now bringing law and order in order to show the Russians how good old American know-how can get the job done) we provided him with stinger missiles. The ones bin Laden couldn’t use he sold to Iran and got cash that has helped in his ongoing battle with his former arms supplier). Now Mr. Bush is arming the Palestinian organization known as Fatah.
President Mahmoud Abbas is a member of the Fatah party and the president of the Palestinian Authority. He was elected in 2005 and until 2006 Fatah controlled the Palestinian Authority. Some parts of Fatah get along with Israel-sort of. In 2006 legislative elections were held. Hamas won and took control of parliament. Fatah cabinet members resigned and were replaced by Hamas members. Hamas does not get along with Israel. It wants it removed from the face of the earth. Since the elections, relations between Fatah and Hamas have been tense and often violent. The two groups have tried unsuccessfully to form a unity government and since that failed have resorted to shooting at one another in the streets.
Mr. Bush is very concerned about the destabilizing effect a full-scale conflict between the two groups could have on the region. He fears it could turn into another Iraq. One way of dealing with the concern would be for him to initiate talks with the two groups and see if there is a way forward that would protect Israel’s right to exist while at the same time eliminating the risk of civil war between Hamas and Fatah. That is impossible because the United States (and Israel for that matter) do not talk to groups that are dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Mr. Bush also doesn’t talk to countries he doesn’t like but that’s another story. Ever creative, Mr. Bush has another plan. Sell arms.
Mr. Bush is going to pour $86 million into the coffers of Fatah. That is more than the total of all the monies the United States has given the PLO since it was formed in 1994. None of this aid would be necessary if Fatah had not lost the 2006 election. The money will help it regain what it lost at the ballot box. Mr. Bush understands that kind of thinking since he had to go the Supreme Court to become president after losing at the ballot box.
According to media reports in late December, with Israel’s and the United States’s approval, 2,000 AK-47s and two million bullets were transferred to Mr. Abbas’s security forces, many of whom are loyal to Mr. Abbas and to Fatah. (Fatah’s armed wing known as Al-Aqsa fighters are hostile to Israel and some Fatah folk have launched terrorist attacks against both the U.S and Israel but Mr. Bush hopes those people won’t be given those weapons.) With $86 million it’s a sure bet there will be lots more weapons heading Fatah’s way. More arms is a sure fire way to bring peace to that region.
There is, of course, always the chance that the arms being sold will eventually be used against the merchant (us) or even Israel. That is because there are people loyal to Fatah who dislike Israel. Bassam Eid, head of the Palestinian Rights Monitoring Group in East Jerusalem says the Fatah faction is not a moderate movement and that the infusion of cash will “double the number of thugs” in Fatah. Dennis Roth, a Middle East advisor to two administrations said: “The $86 million reflects the basic sense in the administration that the only way to change things is through confrontation.”
That is not surprising. Bullies are usually inarticulate and prefer a show of force to a show of brains, especially when not possessed of the latter. Mr. Bush is their poster child.
Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: Brauchli.firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website: http://hraos.com/