Hamas "fighters" took gunmen captured from the rival Fatah organization from their headquarters in Rafah in the Gaza Strip and "shot them to death gangland style in the street in front of their families," the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Jamal Abu Jadian, a top Fatah commander, fled his home dressed as a woman.
"But when Abu Jadian arrived at a hospital a few hundred meters away from his house, he was discovered by a group of Hamas gunmen, who took turns shooting him in the head with automatic rifles," the Jerusalem Post reported.
That sort of behavior can sow mistrust between partners.
At least 30 people were killed and 80 wounded in fighting between the rival Palestinian factions Wednesday, bringing the total for the week to more than 400 dead and wounded. The death toll was sufficiently high for the AP to describe the escalating conflict as a "civil war," a description it is loathe to use outside of Iraq.
Fatah and Hamas share responsibility for governing the Palestinian Authority, which consists of the Gaza Strip (part of Egypt before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war) where 1.49 million people live, and the West Bank (part of Jordan prior to the 1967 war), where 2.54 million people live. Fatah chieftain Mahmoud Abbas is president of the Palestinian Authority, but Hamas controls its parliament.
A two-state "solution" is at hand, but it is within the Palestinian Authority, not as generations of diplomats naively have hoped between the Palestinians and Israel.
Hamas is consolidating its control over Gaza, while Fatah retains (for now) the upper hand in the West Bank. In retaliation for the Hamas attacks in Gaza, Fatah arrested Wednesday 36 Hamas activists in the West Bank towns of Jenin, Nablus, Jericho, Ramallah and Bethlehem.
Both Fatah and Hamas are terror groups which launch attacks on Israeli civilians whenever the opportunity presents itself. But there are differences between them which go beyond rival gangs squabbling over the same turf.
Fatah is more nationalist than religious, and sometimes pretends the destruction of Israel isn't its ultimate goal, a subterfuge which has been useful in obtaining foreign aid from Western governments most of which made it into the Swiss bank accounts of Fatah's founder, the late Yassir Arafat. Fatah is supported chiefly by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Hamas, on the other hand, is militantly Islamist. It wants to create a Taliban-like state. Though Hamas is led by Sunni extremists, it is supported by Iran and Iran's only Arab ally, Syria.
President Abbas has responded to the massacre of his guys by formally dissolving the PA parliament. He said that until elections can be held, he'll rule the West Bank and Gaza by decree. Lots of luck enforcing those decrees in Gaza, Mahmoud!
It would seem hard to blame this turf war between Muslim gangs on the Jews, or on President Bush, but the clueless are trying, reports Victor Davis Hanson. Stuck in airports, the historian spent Wednesday "watching CNN and its parade of glib fools."
One talking head blamed the U.S. for not recognizing Hamas, despite Hamas' refusal to renounce its plans to destroy Israel, Mr. Hanson said. Another said the violence was prompted by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. A third said if the U.S. hadn't promoted democracy in the Arab world, there wouldn't have been an election for Hamas to win.
The tendency of some liberals to blame Israel and America for the bad things Muslims do is driven as much by cowardice as it is by stupidity. If you can convince yourself these guys would be reasonable if only we make one more concession, then you don't have to face up to the threat radical Islam poses to all we hold dear.
Also on Wednesday, a bomb killed Walid Eido, an anti-Syrian member of the Lebanese parliament, his son, and eight other people. Mr. Eido is the seventh leading anti-Syrian politician or journalist to be murdered in Lebanon in the last two years, the first since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dubbed Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, who is thought to be behind the murders, a partner in peace.
Syria is preparing to go to war with Israel this summer, Bashar Assad said in an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper last month. An Iranian/Syrian puppet state in Gaza would be a swell place from which to launch a second front.
Democrats like Ms. Pelosi think all our troubles with radical Islam would end if we withdrew our troops from Iraq. Her new friend Bashar may be about to disabuse her of that notion.