By Joyce Chediac, workers.org, June 24, 2007
June 20—Recent events in Gaza were not a “power struggle between rival factions,” or a “five-day civil war.” These descriptions in the establishment press are imperialist attempts to conceal the events’ true nature.
The Gaza struggle was between irreconcilable class forces. On one side were the forces of national resistance represented by Hamas. On the other side were the forces of imperialist slavery represented by a small faction of Fatah under Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his security advisor Mohammad Dahlan. This group consciously lent itself to Washington and Tel Aviv’s designs to drive Hamas from power and overturn the results of the 2006 election that gave Hamas a majority in the Palestinian Parliament. (see chronology)
“Our fight is not against Fatah, the one with the long history in the struggle, but against just one group of Fatah agents who were following the Zionist agenda,” explained Abu Obaida, spokesman for Hamas’s Qassam Brigades. (Observer, June 17) Hamas recognizes Mahmoud Abbas, and has called on him to join them in a new unity government (see related article).
Hamas was compelled to defend itself by destroying the armed forces of the cat’s-paw of imperialism before this cat’s-paw destroyed Hamas. This is why Hamas staged a pre-emptive assault on Fatah security offices, especially the Preventive Security forces and the Presidential Guard, which reported to Mohammad Dahlan. In the heat of events, genuinely anti-imperialist, anti-Israeli militants in the Fatah side may have erroneously been drawn into the struggle. This, however, does not change the struggle’s class character.
Hamas and Gaza need worldwide support
The U.S., Israel, the Arab League and European Union have quickly lined up against Hamas, issuing further threats to that group and to the 1.4 million people of Gaza. Hamas and the Palestinian struggle need the support of progressives worldwide at this crucial time.
Palestinians, so much in need of a strong and united movement, have reacted to the Gaza developments and ensuing split with a heavy heart. Under constant attack by Israel, the situation in the Occupied Territories is dire. But it would have been worse if Hamas had been defeated in Gaza by the Fatah group. This group countered every attempt by Hamas to achieve unity against the Israelis, and stood by while Israel arrested 40 Hamas legislators. The group persisted in provocation, even to the point of trying to assassinate the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh.
Quotes from the Gaza street reveal what this Abbas-Dahlan cooperation with U.S. and Israeli destabilization brought on the people. Hatem Shurrab, 22, an aid worker in Gaza, interviewed by aljazeera.net on June 15, said “I was really sad about what happened ... [but] one good thing is that Hamas targeted many collaborators who worked for Israel and committed many crimes—such as killing Palestinians just because they had beards and blowing up supermarkets and houses linked to Fatah.”
Continuing its blatant intervention, “The United States had quietly encouraged Mr. Abbas to dissolve the Palestinian government and dismiss Prime Minister Ismail Haniya,” (New York Times, June 15). This is exactly what Abbas did, ignoring offers from Hamas to re-establish the unity government (see Hamas statement).
In violation of the Palestinian Constitution, and much to the joy of Washington, he has fired Hamas and the entire elected government and appointed an emergency government and prime minister—a former World Bank official who is the West’s economic point man. (see related article). This new government, in which only Abbas was elected, claims to preside over the West Bank, really ruled by the iron fist of Israeli occupation, where all the struggle forces must remain underground.
Now Bush is now calling Abbas “president of all the Palestinians,” and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is calling Abbas “friend.” However, neither Washington nor Tel Aviv have any intentions of granting true sovereignty to the Palestinian people, out of fear of their revolutionary potential.
‘Won’t fight for an American agenda’
The U.S. and Israel were caught unawares, and dealt a stunning defeat with the fall of the Fatah security forces. Even the New York Times, in an editorial (June 15), calls events in Gaza “a defeat for Israeli and American policy.” The U.S., which looks upon the people as commodities to be bought and sold, was truly shocked at how quickly the more numerous and better armed Fatah forces collapsed before Hamas.
But people have hearts and minds. Though poverty may have driven them into the security forces, many Fatah soldiers had no heart for enforcing a pro-Zionist, pro-imperialist agenda on their own people.
The Observer (June 17) reports that people within Fatah support the Hamas move. Former senior Fatah member Khaled Abu Helah said on Hamas TV that he “welcomed Hamas’s cleansing of Fatah of its collaborators and traitors.” Additionally, “Some officers in the Presidential Guard had sent their men home as the fighting began.”
A Gaza resident added, “Hamas fighters were not getting salaries. They believed in what they were doing. Some fought for four days without going home.
“Fatah security forces fought for their thousand shekels or a pack of cigarettes. Dahlan had used poverty to recruit the people. The majority didn’t even turn up to defend their stations. Many stayed home. Most were in plain clothes. Dozens called the Qassam and said, ‘We want to leave, give us security and a safe passage.’ Most of the decent security people don’t want to fight for Dahlan, or Israel or America. They don’t feel they should be killed for the [U.S] American or Israeli agenda.”
There were earlier times when Fatah forces felt they had something to fight for. One of their finest moments occurred during the 1982 U.S.-Israeli siege of Beirut. For seven weeks, Israel attacked Beirut by sea, air and land, cutting off food and water supplies and disconnecting the electricity in blistering heat. But the armed people and heroic fighters, who mostly identified with Fatah, held strong under the most unbearable conditions, defended the camps and suburbs, and would not give in. Their steadfastness forced a negotiated settlement and inspired workers and oppressed people everywhere.
These Fatah fighters showed the world that only the struggle wins concessions, especially in a national liberation struggle as beleaguered as the fight for Palestine. Today Hamas is the most under attack for waging this struggle. It, and all who fight for Palestine, sorely needs the active support of all who value justice and freedom.