Thursday, July 05, 2007

Two days

Three papers highlighted three aspects of the Johnston release: To Al-Hayat the most interesting angle was the fact that the fatwa ordering the release (no doubt really providing face-saving cover for the group doing the releasing) was issued by a cleric who is a member of a strict Salafi group in Gaza. The fatwa was based on the overriding Palestinian national interest. Since salafis are in principle opposed to islamists getting involved in the kind of national electoral-government activities Hamas is involved in, this was an interesting case of a coming-together in spite of ideological differences. To Al-Quds al-Arabi the ins and outs of the armed-group dynamics was the most interesting angle, noting that its sources say the kidnap-group will get to keep its arms. While Hamas has earlier on many occasions accused this group, the so-called Islamic Army, of generating fitna as part of the program of Mohamed Dahlan, now the common position seems to be that the Islamic Army will be using its arms only against the occupation. To Al-Akhbar, the release was part of the battle between Hamas and Fatah for "legitimacy and legality", with the Fatah emergency government trying to use the wage-payment issue (with no money for Hamas loyalists) as a proof of its clout, but with Hamas stealing their thunder with the Johnston release as proof of their ability to govern and maintain order.

The only really forward-looking comment was by Al-Hayat which said: First of all, this paves the way for efforts to release the Israeli soldier Shalit, whose capture has been described as a joint venture with this same Islamic Army group; and if that happens, perhaps the result will be major moves in the direction of lifting the economic blockade.

But that was Wednesday. Yesterday (Thursday) was another day. Emergency "Prime Minister" Fayyad renewed his expressions of determination to end the resistance by taking weapons away from anyone "he describes as 'armed persons'". "The party's over", said Fayyad, taking over an English expression he probably learned from the IMF. But the Al-Akhbar reporter continues:
In spite of what Fayyad said, it appears for Israel the party is still just getting under way. Its incursions yesterday into Al-Maghazi and Al-Barij, two camps in central Gaza Sector, was the best proof of that, where occupation forces devoted themselves to punishing the Palestinians without distinguishing between resistance and civilian, the result being 11 martyred and 20 others wounded.

Media footage showing Al-Aqsa TV cameraman Amad Ghanam being hit by additional Israeli bullets after he had already fallen to the ground after taking the first bullet, was a living witness to the fact that it is Israel that decides when anything starts or "is over" in the Palestinian scene, in spite of the domestic actors amusing themselves with struggles over "legitimacy" and "legality."
So it goes. Palestinians squaring the circle in Gaza bringing together salafists, warlords and politicians in a common project; the Americans' buffoon in the West Bank working his tough financial magic (no money for Hamas-loyalists, an excellent thumbnail summary of the so-called IMF orthodoxy); and finally what the Al-Akhbar reporter thought of as the defining footage of the Israelis trying to finish off the TV cameraman as he was lying on the ground.


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