Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Was Gaza a Fatah Ploy?

That's the question being asked by McClatchey News Service. Reporter Dion Nissinbaum questions why Fatah seemingly yielded Gaza with hardly a fight.

"...there was no last stand. Instead, Fatah leaders fled the Gaza Strip by boat and on foot, leaving lower-level fighters feeling betrayed.

"In five days of fighting, Fatah never put up a real fight. The question is why not.

"In interviews with McClatchy Newspapers during and after the fighting, Fatah foot soldiers said they felt abandoned as they realized that there'd be no counterattack, not even a last-ditch defense.

"Some of them thought incompetent political leaders had done them in. But this land has long been fertile soil for conspiracy theories, and others wondered whether Abbas had deliberately ceded the Gaza Strip to Hamas in an attempt to isolate the radical Islamic group and consolidate his power in the much larger West Bank.

"'There was total frustration and disappointment,' said one Abbas security officer who was among the last to abandon the presidential compound on Thursday night, June 14, and asked to be identified only as A.R. because of fear of retaliation. 'We felt like there was a conspiracy to hand over Gaza to Hamas.'

"Whether it was conspiracy or collapse, Fatah's downfall in Gaza has created an unexpected opportunity for Israel, the United States and others to re-establish full relations with Abbas and the pro-Western emergency cabinet he's installed to replace the elected, Hamas-dominated Palestinian government."

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