Ever since 2007, and the bloody takeover of Gaza by Hamas, which ended in the death of 700 Fatah members and the expulsion of thousands more, Hamas and the PA (in which Fatah is the ruling faction) have been at each others’ throats. Now the PA has accused Hamas of planning to seize control of a Palestinian security installation near Ramallah, as part of a larger effort to take over all the PA-ruled territories in the West Bank. A report on this accusation is here: “15 years after Gaza takeover, Fatah warns Hamas against trying to seize West Bank,” by Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2022:
Hamas members planned to seize control of a Palestinian Authority security installation near Ramallah, Palestinian sources said Tuesday.
The claim coincided with the 15th anniversary of Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and its security forces there. According to the sources, the PA security forces recently discovered a weapons cache and tunnel near the headquarters of a Palestinian security installation in the town of Beitunia, west of Ramallah.
At least 19 Hamas members were arrested in connection with the weapons and the tunnel.
The Hamas men are suspected of planning to infiltrate and seize control of the security installation, which belongs to the PA’s Preventive Security Service, the sources said. The weapons were discovered following an explosion in a carpentry workshop in the town.…
PA’s official news agency Wafa issued the following:
In a statement marking the anniversary of the Hamas coup, Fatah warned that the Gaza-based terror group was continuing its efforts to extend its control to the West Bank. Hamas is “proceeding with its attempts and conspiracies to control the West Bank,” Fatah charged.
Fatah went on to accuse Hamas of preparing to carry out “sabotage attacks” in the West Bank in order to undermine the PA and its security forces. Referring to the reports concerning the alleged Hamas plot near Ramallah, Fatah said that the discovery of the weapons and tunnel was a clear example of the terror group’s ongoing efforts to spread chaos and anarchy in the West Bank. Since the 2007 coup, the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been divided into two separate entities.
The PA is now deeply unpopular among the West Bank Arabs. Four out of five of them have said they want their famously corrupt ruler, Mahmoud Abbas, to resign. They now prefer Hamas to the P.A. devil they know. Abbas realizes this; once he was shown the public opinion polls proving that he would lose decisively the presidential election that he had announced in January 2021 would be held within months, he promptly cancelled that election.
Ayman al-Raqab, a senior Fatah official, said that the split was a Palestinian “gift” to Israel. “The division was the worst event to happen in Palestine,” he said. “Israel stands to benefit from the consolidation of the division.”
There won’t be a “consolidation of the division,” but rather, if Hamas has its way, there will be no division — Hamas will rule in both Gaza and the Palestinian parts of the West Bank. Fatah will be marginalized.
The enmity between Hamas and the PA is not over some great matter of principle. It is best understood as akin to a turf war between two Mafia families, fighting for money and power. It’s true that Hamas operatives participate in terrorism far more often than PA members, but the PA incites, rewards, and honors terrorism against the Zionists, including those acts carried out by members of Hamas. Both Hamas and the PA share the same goal – the destruction of the Jewish state – but differ only on matters of tactics and timing.
At least seven attempts by Arab countries to end the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah have failed. The countries that tried to achieve national reconciliation between the rival parties included Saudi Arabia, Syria, Qatar, Yemen, Algeria and Egypt.
There can be no reconciliation when no matter of principle is involved. It’s a primordial struggle over power and money. The Hamas-PA rivalry is only about who gets what. Hamas drove the PA out of Gaza; it now wishes to take advantage of the colossal drop in Mahmoud Abbas’ popularity to stage a coup, overthrow him, and establish a Hamastan in Gaza and the West Bank. As Hamas has been designated as a terror group by many countries, its ascension to power in the Palestinian parts of the West Bank will make it much harder, or very likely impossible, for the Bidenites to keep pushing for a ”two-state solution” when the Arab quasi-state of “Palestine” – consisting of Gaza and Palestinian-ruled parts of the West Bank — is run by a recognized terror group.
Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said that Hamas’s “black coup” remains an obstacle to the “continuation of the Palestinian struggle to end the occupation.” He claimed that Israel and other regional and international parties have since been “encouraging” the division among the Palestinians. “Hamas is not interested in ending this black chapter in the history of our people,” al-Ahmed argued.
Israel has nothing to do with Hamas plots against the PA, except to try to foil them, and Azzam al-Ahmed knows this perfectly well. Bad as the PA is, a Hamas-ruled ministate in the Palestinian parts of the West Bank would be much worse for Israel. It is even possible that Shin Bet operatives in the West Bank helped locate the Hamas tunnel and the weapons caches near Beitunia. The Shin Bet may even have helped Palestinian security forces capture the Hamas members involved. For many years, the Israelis have been helping the PA deal with security threats from Hamas and other terror groups; this year should be no different. When Abbas dies, Israeli security forces will be doing their best to ensure that Fatah operatives, and not Hamas terrorists, will inherit his domain in the West Bank.