The Southern Provinces

(Jerusalem Report) Ehud Ya'ari - * Hamas is considering making a concerted effort to seize power via a combination of the ballot box, pressure on the streets, and growing challenges to the authority of Mahmud Abbas. An assumption is gaining ground within Hamas that the administration of Abu Mazen, despite the international support it enjoys, is not able to defend itself as it ought and that the PA security branches are lacking in motivation and completely ineffective. Moreover, the Hamas leadership is close to concluding that it would prefer to fight to preserve the army it has established from a position of legitimacy, following a perceived victory at the polls. * Since the disengagement, the PA and its parent movement Fatah have not managed to organize a single successful celebration rally anywhere in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Hamas is holding military marches and rallies for the masses. Throughout the recent period, Hamas has been displaying levels of discipline among its rank and file that the PA can only envy. By contrast, among the Palestinian security apparatuses, the refusal to carry out orders is growing to massive proportions. Most Gazans do not look forward to a Hamas government, but the alternative - the corrupt PA - is not so attractive either. * During the week that chaos prevailed at the breached Gaza-Egyptian border following the Israeli army's departure, Hamas smuggled in a large quantity of rifles, RPGs, anti-tank missiles, and a handful of shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, all of which will increase their military power by 50% almost overnight. Hamas will carry on blowing up parts of the high wall that the army left along the border with Egypt. They want an open door to Sinai, which serves as their weapons-smuggling corridor. * A scenario could develop whereby Hamas de facto takes over the Strip, while the Abu Mazen administration "withdraws" to the West Bank and maintains only nominal authority in the "southern districts." This is a serious possibility, even if many want to believe the assurances of Abu Mazen's confidants that "things will yet work out." Truth is, things may not.

2005-10-03 00:00:00

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