The Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing that has begun referring to Fatah as the “Jew American Army,” has given the Fatah-dominated Palestinian National Forces across northern Gaza until Friday evening to surrender their weapons and turn over their posts. The Hamas tactic, which has included broadcasting inaccurate claims from minarets that Fatah posts have fallen, has proved highly effective in prompting outgunned Fatah fighters to flee.
As for themselves, the Fatah fighters resent the confusion:
Among yesterday’s dead was a 14-year-old boy and three women, all killed in a Hamas attack on a Fatah security officer’s home.
“They’re firing at us, firing RPGs, firing mortars. We’re not Jews,” the brother of Jamal Abu Jediyan, a Fatah commander, pleaded during a live telephone conversation with a Palestinian radio station.
Minutes later both men were dragged into the streets and riddled with bullets.
Is the spectacle sufficient to interrupt the automatic pilot that drives the State Department? According to the New York Times, this apparently remains a knotty question:
President Bush had been planning an address later this month to bolster Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice