Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A rare Hamas voice of introspection

From Reuters:
A senior figure in Hamas, the Islamist group that heads the Palestinian government, published an article on Tuesday condemning internal violence and questioning whether it had become a "Palestinian disease."

Ghazi Hamad, a member of Hamas who also acts as the spokesman for the Hamas-led government, said he was disturbed by growing factionalism in the Palestinian territories, including recent deadly clashes between rival political movements.

"Has violence become a culture implanted in our bodies and our flesh?" he asked in the sharply worded article, published in the widely read Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam.

"We have surrendered to it until it has become the master and is obeyed everywhere -- in the house, the neighborhood, the family, the clan, the faction and the university."

It was the second time in recent months that Hamad, who is based in Gaza, had written an opinion piece in al-Ayyam critical of Palestinian in-fighting.

In August, he criticized Palestinian militant groups fighting
Israel, saying they were not doing the cause of Palestinian independence any good by launching attacks at moments when it appeared progress was being made.

In the article published on Tuesday, Hamad said the presence of armed men on almost every street, and their attendance at every rally, whether political or not, had created an atmosphere of guns and violence that damaged prospects for calm.

Hamad wrote that 175 Palestinians had been killed by "Palestinian gunfire" since the beginning of the year.

His original autotranslated article is here. It includes this startling (for Palestinian Arabs) section:
Who should be responsible? Do we all bear responsibility? Yes!!! Are we participants of this great sin? Yes!
To see a Palestinian Arab blame his own people for their problems, and not the Zionists, is close to amazing. (Other Arab newspapers are not as charitable towards Palestinian Arabs.)

As far as his estimate of 175 of his people killed by their own people this year, the number is certainly higher, although it is hard to know exactly how much higher. I counted 116 dead since late June, and PCHR lists an additional 61 between February 21st and Operation Summer Rains. We can safely assume at least 20 more killed from January 1st to February 20th, and we have seen that PCHR does not count some of the deaths that other press mentions, as well as those who die from earlier injuries. I would conservatively estimate between 220-250 violent PalArab deaths this year so far from gunfire, work accidents, random shootings at weddings and funerals, clan clashes, honor killings (both women and men!) and the like.

(H/T Soccer Dad via email.)