It’s back to business as usual in the Gaza Strip — for Hamas at least. It is doing what it does best. And no I’m not talking about engaging in the democratic process and helping the people who elected it. Rather it is rounding up and arresting “suspected collaborators with Israel”.
According to a Reuters report the Hamas internal security service has been instructed to track down collaborators and “hit them hard”.
The move has drawn accusations from Fatah that its members are being targeted. Naturally as they were clearly the ones who fired rockets into Israel.
Another report in the Jeusalem Post said Hamas has now rounded up hundreds of Fatah activists. It quotes Fatah members and eyewitnesses saying the detainees were being held in school buildings and hospitals that Hamas had turned into make-shift interrogation centers.
The JP also says that Hamas has also renewed house arrest orders that were issued against thousands of Fatah officials and activists in the Gaza Strip shortly after the military operation started.
Ehab al-Ghsain, spokesman of the Hamas Interior Ministry, without singling out Fatah members by name, told Reuters: “They [the internal security service] arrested dozens of collaborators who attempted to strike the resistance by giving information to the occupation about the fighters,” he said, using a Hamas term for Israel, whose 22-day offensive devastated the Gaza Strip.
A statement issued by Fatah in Gaza said that since fighting ended in Gaza Hamas had carried out a number of attacks against its members. These have apparently included summary “executions and throwing the bodies in the rubble”.
A Fatah official in Ramallah told the Post that at least 100 of his men had been killed or wounded as a result of the massive Hamas crackdown. Some had been brutally tortured, he added.
The Fatah official in Ramallah said that, apart from being baseless, the allegations were aimed at paving the way for a ruthless Hamas attack on Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip.
“They were afraid to confront the Israeli army and many Hamas militiamen even ran away during the fighting,” he said. “Hamas is now venting its anger and frustration against our Fatah members there.”
Another Fatah activist in Gaza City told the Post that as many as 80 members of his faction were either shot in the legs or had their hands broken for allegedly defying Hamas’s house-arrest orders.
“What’s happening in the Gaza Strip is a new massacre that is being carried out by Hamas against Fatah,” he said. “Where were these [Hamas] cowards when the Israeli army was here?”
Gene adds: Given what’s happening now in Gaza, I think it’s symbolically significant that Barack Obama’s first phone call as president to a foreign leader was to Mahmoud Abbas.