Sunday, October 16, 2005

The "Let Gaza Destroy Itself" Plan is Excellent, says Montgomery Burns

Isn't it great! As predicted, the Palestinians are killing each other. The chaos is epidemic! Excellent!

Seriously, the proof is in the pudding. There are more and more splinter groups growing in Gaza, and they all HATE each other. Isn't that great! Now if we could cut off that jizya that keeps the whole goddamn thing from ramping to full tilt annihilation. That would be sweet.

From Time Magazine | World
Gaza's New Strongmen
Now that Israel is gone, the Palestinian Authority faces a new foe: armed militias that want to clean house and take their piece of the pie. Meet the Sopranos of the Middle East

Posted Sunday, Oct. 09, 2005
Jamal Abu Samhadana meets visitors in a narrow first-floor room in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah, in a dwelling lit only by a small, battery-powered fluorescent strip. He proffers a misshapen right hand for a shake. Shrapnel from an Israeli tank shell broke Abu Samhadana's forearm in 2001. His hand looks caved in, his wrist bends grotesquely and his skin is unnaturally smooth and hairless, as though the limbs had been melted. For a tough guy like Abu Samhadana, such disfigurements are badges of authenticity. "Luckily," he says, "I shoot with my left hand."

Although rarely seen in public, Abu Samhadana is emerging as the most powerful figure in this flash-point town on the border between Gaza and Egypt, where the intifadeh was at its most murderous. As the founder of an armed militia called the Salah ed-Din Brigades, he commands 2,000 gunmen who since 2001 have fought deadly battles with Israeli forces patrolling the border. But now that Israel has pulled its troops and civilians out of Gaza and turned over responsibility for the area to the Palestinian Authority, Abu Samhadana and his troops have a new target: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his security services, who are struggling to impose order in Gaza, home to 1.5 million Palestinians. Abbas' predecessor, Yasser Arafat, used to send Abu Samhadana $10,000 a month, but Abbas ended those payments in February. Without such support, Abu Samhadana's army is filled with jobless (and armed) men who have been expressing their frustration by going on a spree of kidnappings and assassinations. "Gaza is in security chaos," says Abu Samhadana. "Every Palestinian citizen is in danger."

For Palestinians, the elation that accompanied Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip has been replaced by fear that a bloody struggle will erupt between Abbas' security services and the myriad armed groups proliferating in the Palestinian territories. Abbas has had limited success in persuading the Islamist group Hamas to halt rocket attacks against Israel. But his more troublesome quandary is how to deal with militia leaders like Abu Samhadana, who nominally belong to Abbas' Fatah party but operate outside anyone's control. U.S. officials estimate that there are 3,000 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank who consider themselves leaders of militias like the Salah ed-Din Brigades, although most are much less powerful than Abu Samhadana. The Palestinian Authority's 30,000 police and soldiers in the Gaza Strip say they lack the capacity to disarm such groups. In an open show of their frustration, 50 police officers fired guns in the air and interrupted a meeting of the Palestinian parliament in Gaza City last week to plead for more firepower. Some Palestinians fear that Gaza is descending into violent anarchy. "It's a Mafia situation," says Saeb al-Ajez, who resigned as chief of Palestinian police in February to protest the lawlessness. "Law is cast aside. Everyone wants to show his muscles." [YEAH!]

Among the brawniest is Abu Samhadana, whose shifting network of allegiances illustrates the difficulties Abbas faces in trying to restore order. During the intifadeh, the Salah ed-Din Brigades gained the respect of Gazans by confronting Israeli soldiers when the official Palestinian military fled. But the group ran its refugee camps, towns and villages as gangster fiefs. With the Israelis gone, locals say it has increasingly turned to racketeering and extortion. Despite Abbas' ban on the public display of weapons, members of the gang can still be seen on Gaza's streets, openly toting their M-16 and AK-47 assault rifles. And Abu Samhadana has become a strident critic of Abbas and his henchmen, whom he views as ineffectual. "The reason for the chaos is the weakness of the Palestinian Authority," he says. "It is weak because it is totally corrupt." [Thanks Sahmhadana helping to keep the chaos at a fever pitch. Go kill a lot of Palestinians! Muslims killing Muslims. It's what they do best, killing, and it is best for the infidels, that they kill their own kind.]

Abu Samhadana's men have become more brazen in going after their enemies. Early last month, gunmen besieged the house of Moussa Arafat, a top security adviser to Abbas, dragged him into the street and shot him 23 times. Members of the Salah ed-Din Brigades claimed responsibility for the killing in a statement released through a website, saying it killed Arafat because he was a "collaborator and corrupt." Senior Palestinian security officials say they believe the gunmen were persuaded to carry out the hit by Arafat's rivals within Fatah. Over the summer, branches of the Salah ed-Din Brigades also launched a series of kidnappings of foreign aid workers and journalists in what amounted to gangster-style extortion bids. Take the kidnapping of Muhammad Ouathi, a French-Algerian journalist. Members of the brigades swiped Ouathi in Gaza City on Aug. 14. Abu Samhadana stepped in to negotiate, persuading Palestinian officials to release, in return for the liberty of the journalist, 10 of his men held by the police for a raid on Gaza's central jail in January.

The violence seems likely to escalate. Arafat's family will no doubt eventually take revenge. And armed Fatah factions, including the Salah ed-Din Brigades, have compiled a hit list, according to senior Fatah officials, that includes party officials and cabinet ministers suspected of corruption. Fearing for their lives, several senior Fatah officials fled last month to Jordan. [with the US and EU jizya booty in tow, you can bet on that.] In Nablus, a former Interior Minister narrowly escaped being assassinated Sept. 20 by a group of masked men. Meanwhile, the leader of the Fatah militia in the West Bank town of Jenin said two weeks ago that he no longer considers himself bound by Abbas' "calmness" agreement with the various Palestinian factions. Nowhere among the Fatah men is there the trust that binds Hamas activists. "I don't exclude the possibility that the Authority will kill me," says Abu Samhadana.

Defusing groups like the Salah ed-Din Brigades won't be easy. Unlike Hamas, they have no political program that Abbas can negotiate over. Abu Samhadana says his "main priority" is to gain sinecures for his men in the Palestinian Authority's security forces. So far, he has been offered jobs for 500. That's not enough, he says, and complains that the remaining 1,500 "will be like the rest of the Palestinian people--unemployed." [Oh brave infidel, doesn't it warm your heart that your jizya will be given to these Gaza security forces?] The town of Rafah is particularly desperate: it has a 66% unemployment rate, compared with 25% among Palestinians in general, and 81% of its residents live in poverty. Israel demolished thousands of homes near the border to prevent militants from digging tunnels beneath them that could be used to smuggle weapons into Gaza. The meager refugee-camp blocks facing the border are a bullet-pocked mess of twisted rebar and shattered concrete.

Ultimately, Abbas' prospects for controlling the gunmen may depend on the health of Gaza's economy. [Uh oh, I feel a major jizya bloodsucking coming. Pucker up and bend over US!] Abbas has announced a few new infrastructure projects since the Israeli pullout, but they won't provide nearly enough jobs for the 20,000 gunmen operating in the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian security officials. Abbas already has a bloated public payroll that eats up 62% of his budget, and World Bank officials are leaning on him to fire some of his nearly 60,000 security officers, not hire more. If economic opportunities stay bleak, the gunmen may well push Gaza deeper into lawlessness. Even Abu Samhadana is worried that his men, having realized their goal of ending the Israeli occupation of Gaza, may cause even more ruination to Palestinian society if their vigilantism remains unchecked. "We must all distinguish between weapons of resistance and weapons of chaos," he says. The question is whether it's already too late. [ Oh I get it. Weapons of resistance if killing the infidels, and weapons of chaos if killing fellow Muslims. As an infidel, I feel better already.]


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