Editorial comment: Gaza is in turmoil. Some would say that has ever been the way, but even seasoned observers regard the latest violence between supporters of Fatah and Hamas as exceptional in its intensity.

Author:Lancaster, Pat
Position:CURRENT AFFAIRS - Editorial

The idea of Palestinians killing Palestinians is abhorrent. Despite the brutality they have suffered at the hands of external forces over almost 60 years, as well as considerable domestic in-fighting, for the most part Palestinians have managed to hold together a cohesion of purpose. Now that unity lies in tatters and whether it can ever be fully restored is dubious. The clans have taken over and their particular brand of warfare is among the most damaging of all conflicts, with memory and the desire for revenge running deep, often through many generations.

The reasons behind the latest conflict are well recorded. Some say Fatah's regime was corrupt and too intent on looking after its own officials to consider the wellbeing of Palestinians on the street. Others remain loyal to the party of former chairman Yasser Ararat, which they think offers the only real chance of peace with Israel and the rest of the world.

When Hamas was democratically elected by a majority of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank back in February 2006, it refused to recognise Israel and thus any prospect of progress on the peace accords ground to a halt.

The international community, who by and large advocated democracy for the Palestinians--but only if Fatah bested Hamas at the polls--responded by drawing down its aid to a mere trickle, further exacerbating an already potentially explosive situation.

Speaking at the G-11 group of developing countries in Jordan in May, King Abdullah issued an urgent warning to his international audience, of the need to address the Palestinian-Israeli issue before irrevocable damage was done. As Israeli warplanes pumelled Hamas targets in neighbouring Gaza, King Abdullah warned: "For Palestinians there can be no more delay. The absence of peace and the conditions of occupation have devastated Palestinian life. Three out of five job-seekers cannot find employment. Hundreds of thousands of families are living in misery, sustained only by humanitarian aid. This suffocating situation has brought poverty, malnutrition, frustration and radicalisation."

Sadly, the world appears not to have been listening that day. They soon began listening however, when Hamas overthrew the offices of Palestinian...

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