Some games are played for keeps. A ceasefire between Israel and Egypt may be notionally in force, such as it is, for whatever it is worth. But the internal security war by Hamas against its rivals in Gaza has only just begun. The Guardian reports:
Evidence is emerging of a wave of reprisal attacks and killings inside Gaza that have left dozens dead and more wounded in the wake of Israel’s war. Among the dead are Palestinians suspected of collaborating with the Israeli military. Others include criminals who were among the 600 prisoners to escape from Gaza City’s main jail when it was bombed as the war began. Their attackers are thought to be their victims’ relatives.
Notice the phrasing: ‘Israel’s war’. Never Hamas’ war. The Hamas rockets fired over the border don’t count. Only the counterbattery does. Neither do the Palestinians who are now being executed by Hamas.
Palestinians in human rights organisations are reluctant to speak publicly about what is a sensitive issue, but one respected human rights worker in Gaza said he believed between 40 and 50 people had been killed in reprisal attacks since the start of the war. But there was not yet enough evidence to suggest this was an organised campaign by Hamas, he said.
“We don’t know who’s doing the killing,” the worker said. “Some are individuals, some might be from Hamas. It’s been happening over several days, all across Gaza. It’s not all necessarily Hamas actions against Fatah.” Another human rights worker put the figure at between 25 and 30 documented cases of reprisal. …
Separately, Hamas is believed to have stopped Palestinians reaching an Israeli field hospital on Israel’s side of the border at Erez. “We don’t care about it,” said Hassan Khalaf, Hamas’s deputy health minister. “They are just claiming they care about human beings but they don’t.”
Meanwhile President Obama’s envoy to the Middle East emphasized the need for the ceasefire to continue in order to get the peace negotiations back on track.
President Barack Obama’s special Middle East envoy said Wednesday that strengthening a cease-fire in Gaza is of “critical importance” hours after Israeli warplanes pounded smuggling tunnels in retaliation for the killing of an Israeli soldier in a roadside bomb attack. The flare-up of violence was the worst since separate cease-fires declared by Israel and Hamas took effect Jan. 18, ending a three-week Israeli offensive against the militant Islamic group. After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the American envoy, George Mitchell, said the keys were “consolidating the cease-fire, including a cessation of hostilities, an end to smuggling and the reopening of the crossings.”
However, it may be pertinent to observe that since Hamas is using the “ceasefire” as an opportunity to exterminate its political rivals within Gaza, this hiatus will inevitably guarantee that only only the most extremist and vengeful parties survive for Mitchell to treat with. ‘Hello Hitler? Say what happened to Graf von Stauffenberg? You don’t say? You don’t say? Sir, you are a character!’ To use a recent Hollywood movie as a metaphor, this would be like letting the SS exterminate every German dissenter in order to prepare the way for peace negotiations with the Nazis. It is rarely remembered that many Dutch resistance fighters who had the temerity to join the Allies during the initial phases of Operation Market Garden were summarily shot after that offensive failed. The survivors kept the faith and eventually the Allies returned. Not so in this case. What reason is there for anyone to believe that Hamas will ever be overthrown? Maybe Jimmy Carter’s determination to make a deal with Hamas is a self-fulfilling prophecy. But when peacemakers call for reasonable people to come forward against extremists, I don’t think they really mean it. In the future, any Palestinian foolish enough to consider bucking Hamas will remember that any Israeli attack on the terrorist organization is merely the prelude to another round of reprisal against them. For them, it’s always Market Garden without a final liberation day.
Before the defeat of Operation Market Garden.
One reason to question Jimmy Carter’s judgment about who is to be trusted goes back to 1979, when Carter, through his ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, recognized the election of Robert Mugabe over Bishop Abel Muzorewa, despite widespread complaints that Mugabe had intimidated his way to victory. The Weekly Standard recalls that event. Maybe Carter shouldn’t have trusted Mugabe.
In April 1979, 64 percent of the black citizens of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) lined up at the polls to vote in the first democratic election in the history of that southern African nation. Two-thirds of them supported Abel Muzorewa, a bishop in the United Methodist Church. He was the first black prime minister of a country only 4 percent white. Muzorewa’s victory put an end to the 14-year political odyssey of outgoing prime minister Ian Smith, the stubborn World War II veteran who had infamously announced in 1976, “I do not believe in black majority rule–not in a thousand years.” Fortunately for the country’s blacks, majority rule came sooner than Smith had in mind.
Less than a year after Muzorewa’s victory, however, in February 1980, another election was held in Zimbabwe. This time, Robert Mugabe, the Marxist who had fought a seven-year guerrilla war against Rhodesia’s white-led government, won 64 percent of the vote, after a campaign marked by widespread intimidation, outright violence, and Mugabe’s threat to continue the civil war if he lost. Mugabe became prime minister and was toasted by the international community and media as a new sort of African leader. “I find that I am fascinated by his intelligence, by his dedication. The only thing that frustrates me about Robert Mugabe is that he is so damned incorruptible,” Andrew Young, Jimmy Carter’s ambassador to the United Nations, had gushed to the Times of London in 1978. The rest, as they say, is history.