by Brian Lee, ’17
A string of explosions in Gaza occurred this past Friday near the residences of leaders of Fatah, the Palestinian political party headed by President Mahmoud Abbas. Although there were no casualties, this event has significantly escalated tension between Fatah and long-time political enemy Hamas.
Hamas summoned its security forces stationed in Gaza to investigate the bombings, which it condemned in the media. Yet, in the process of bringing the perpetrators of the bombings to justice, Hamas may face tough times. Interestingly, this bombing happened to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the death of Fatah leader and founder of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Yasir Arafat. Although Hamas never directly spoke of opposing the massive rally in commemoration of Arafat, the concerns that had already been swarming around the issue of whether this rally could indeed go peacefully has left Hamas in a deeply vulnerable situation. As described in an article published in the New York Times by Isabel Kershner and Majd al Waheidi, a bitter Fatah has grown increasingly resolute in its practices over time:
“In a statement, Fatah called the explosions a “dangerous precedent” and called on the unity government to fulfill its role and provide security for the Palestinian people. Fatah officials vowed that the Arafat commemoration would go ahead in Gaza.”
Yet Hamas has struck back against this threat from Fatah, using the presence of it leader Ismail Haniyeh in the context of the recent unity agreement between the two parties as a cover against ongoing tension. Among various issues concerning security and social problems, Mr. Haniyeh expressed another criticism:
“Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Abbas’s move would undermine efforts to implement a reconciliation agreement between the Islamist movement and Fatah.
The agreement, which was reached last year under the auspices of Qatar, calls for the formation of a new Palestinian unity government headed by Abbas. It also calls for holding new presidential and parliamentary elections and solving security-related issues between the two rival parties.
“The reconciliation accord should be implemented as a whole package and not partially,” Haniyeh said of Abbas’s decision to move ahead with plans to form a government.”
The resolution of current tensions between Hamas and Fatah will rely on whether they each uphold their agreement of reconciliation with the other. Complicating this process, Fatah accuses the leaders of Hamas of trying to avoid the agreement altogether. In light of these existing conflicts, it remains to be seen how the two sides will be able to resolves their tensions.