Sunday, June 17, 2007

Chaos in Palestine

My fears of an Israeli attack on Gaza (predicted in the last post) are already beginning to be realised:

Israel plans attack on Gaza

No doubt this will lead to the kind of carnage we saw in Jenin some time ago but on an altogether greater scale. This is a massacre that has not yet happened but that we are sponsoring against people that dared to elect the wrong type of government. Meanwhile the misery and disorder goes on. Journalist Charles Levinson is on the scene, bravely writing up his experiences on his blog Conflict Blotter. Here is an excerpt:

I’ve had a busy day and haven’t had time to post much until now. We spent most of the day interviewing Fatah fighters and officers from the routed security forces. There is an important story to be told here, but I am going to hold off another day to tell it so I can do some more reporting and strengthen the case.

We visited the Tel al Hawa headquarters of the Preventative Security Services. After a bit of back and forth our persuasive fixer at last convinced Hamas to let us in and we were given free run of the place. The place was trashed, with papers and broken glass littered about all the offices. I looted some new Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades stationary.

A pair of older generation Hamas members were there for a visit just as we were. They had come to see the jail cells where they were tortured in the 1990s. Hassan al Ayorki, a soft spoken 46 year old physics teacher, walked us through the interrogation rooms and cramped cells where he says he spent 59 days in 1996. He even found a wooden slatted stool, that sits about 20 cm off the ground which he was forced to sit on, bound and blindfolded for six straight days, he said. He wasn’t allowed to sleep and if he fidgeted or spoke he was beaten, he said. Once they signed a confession they were tossed into their cells for a week before they were dragged back up and endured another round of sleep deprivation and beatings.

“The only accusations against the people was that they had a beard,” he said.

The cramped cells had names and dates etched into the walls. The most recent dates were from mid-May of this year, just a few weeks ago. It’s a reminder of some of the deep rooted grievances that lie at the heart of this conflict.

At the Prime Minister’s office in Beach Camp we hung about hoping to grab a chat with Haniya, but no luck. Haniya’s guards were decked out in shiny black uniforms, remarkably similar to the ones the presidential guard used to wear. We’ve heard that the convoy of “weapons” that Hamas attacked in Nuseirat camp a few weeks ago turned out to be carrying nothing more than new uniforms and ever since then Haniya’s guards have been sporting new duds. Among the spoils reaped after Fatah’s collapse was a brand new black Land Rover for Haniya and a suped up sky blue Jeep Cherokee with grey leather interior and runner boards for his personal guard detail.

The Hamas guards milling about outside were eager to chat and hear our thoughts. Do you feel safer now they asked us. Kidnapped BBC journo Alan Johnston was repeatedly mentioned.

“If they don’t release him there will be a war,” one guard said. “We’ll take him by force.”

Another guard snapped his hands like he was striking somebody. “Dagmush,” he said and spat.

“If we get Alan Johnston back, will Britain recognise Hamas?” another asked me.

continued at link.


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