The two Palestinian factions, or gangs, Hamas and Fatah, fought it out on the border of Israel in Gaza, which lies between Israel and Egypt. The Hamas unity government has been disbanded by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas belongs to the Fatah group, who are the losers in this bloody fight. Hamas has been backed and supported by Iran. Israel actually was helping Fatah by giving them arms, as this group was the best possible candidate for a neighbor. Fatah had recognized Israel's right to exist and had signed on to past peace agreements, but was overcome by Hamas.
This fight started last year when Hamas won parliamentary elections, causing a violent power struggle with Fatah. The partnership started to crumble last month over control of the powerful security forces, who were busy shelling Israel.
Fatah was not the perfect neighbor to be, however. They were unable to stop Kassam rockets from being shot into Israel. They were full of the usual corruption, internal petty quarreling and lacked a strong leadership.
Hamas has put Islamic extremists in control in Gaza. Israel is not planning an invasion into Gaza as this might invite more rocket attacks on southern Israel. The United Nations has taken the strong step to scale back its relief projects there as an answer to the takeover. The European Commission suspended tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid projects in the Gaza Strip due to the escalated violence.
Hamas overran one of Fatah's security bases in a battle of mortar and gunfire today. They marched their foes into the streets without shirts. This was a vendetta of an attack in 1996 that wasn't forgotten. Hamas shot dead seven Fatah fighters after they surrendered. Two examined later were found to be shot in the head at close range, and witnesses told they were killed in front of their wives and children, execution-style. Then they carried one and put him in a sand dune, turning him around and shooting him. The Hamas ignored neighborhood residents' appeals to save their lives.
Iran's tentacles will now be able to reach Israel much easier through Hamas. There they are on the border.
Israel will have to be most wary of its security with such an upset in its future neighbors. Their security cannot even trust mothers. Israel just arrested two Palestinian mothers who were planning to carry out suicide attacks inside Israel. Yet Desmond Tutu expects Israel to improve their human rights records. I don't think he's paying attention to who is breaking human rights's rules. The Israel cabinet decided that water and electricity would be kept out of the conflict, which shows a lot of humanitarian concern. Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister, has not agreed to lift a freeze of Palestinian funds to pay for the connection of a northern Gaza electrical substation to Israel's electrical grid, though. That would be like giving your enemy live ammunition to defeat you. Hamas can easily borrow the money from Iran. After all, Hamas is echoing Iran's threat of wiping Israel off of the map.