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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Anarchy in the Terror-tories

Armed Palestinians militants attend an anti-Palestinian Authority
protest in Gaza, February 10, 2004. Hundreds of Palestinian
militants and their supporters staged a protest march against
the Palestinian Authority in Gaza on Tuesday for putting on trial
four men charged in the deadly bombing of a U.S. diplomatic
convoy last October 15. REUTERS/ Mohammed Salem
Gangs turning the intifada on itself
Toronto Star: NABLUS, West Bank - To war-weary Palestinian eyes in this, the largest of the West Bank cities, it is hard to tell the good guys from the bad any more.

Palestinians know the nearby Israeli army is the enemy.

But as for those among their own people who can be counted as Palestinian patriots, few could say with conviction.

Such is the dissolute state of Nablus, where more than 30 Palestinians have died in recent months, the victims of bullets fired by other Palestinians.

The killing spree has brought into high relief the existence in Nablus of the other Palestinian struggle, a hidden war that is as much about organized crime as it is about national resistance.

Buoyed by what is now a total absence of islah, or public order, a fragmented array of heavily armed criminal gangs has turned the intifada on itself.

As many as eight separate factions - in Nablus and the three refugee camps that ring the city - lay claim to the title Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the radical offshoot of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

But the name doesn't mean much these days, not when so many who lay claim to it are fighting for the spoils of criminal racketeering, car thefts, drugs, gun running and extortion.

"It is a mafia that controls our streets now," says Mayoub Abu Saliyeh, who last week witnessed a bloody turf battle from the vantage of the gas station he manages. "People get killed, nobody gets arrested, because there is no law, no security.

"I have never seen my city like this before, where any man with a gun can do whatever he wants. It is a dream for Israel, the way Palestinians quarrel with each other."

In a city ravaged by repeated Israeli armoured incursions since the onset of the September, 2000, intifada, few here hesitate to blame Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the collapse of law and order...
The reporter's "Balata source" says, "Why give Israel a free occupation? Why bother presenting to the world a picture that implies Israel is facing another country? I believe if Arafat really cared, he would show the moral authority to walk away and let Israel fix this mess."

I think fixing "this mess" is exactly what Sharon is trying to avoid. It seems like he plans to gather the Jews behind the wall, and simply let the Palestinians destroy themselves. I suppose I've heard worse ideas.