December 23, 2006

The rise and rise of Hamas

Here's an article by Rory McCarty in today's Guardian. McCarthy explains the rise of Hamas by reference to the failings of Fatah. He also looks at the divisions in Palestinian society by reference to the Qalandia refugee camp.
In the past, refugee camps like this one, housing families that fled Israel in 1948, would have been strongholds of Fatah, the secular movement that for the past generation has been at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle for independence.

But Mr Abu Latifa, 51, having been a lifetime Fatah supporter, voted for Hamas, the hardline Islamic movement that won the last elections. It was his way of punishing Fatah for its many failings. "They were crooks, thieves and warlords," he said, sitting on a plastic chair in the sun outside his shop. "They still haven't cleaned themselves up." The rest of his family, including his four teenage children and his brother and sister, are still Fatah supporters.

A few yards further along the street are others who vow to remain lifelong Fatah loyalists. Working next to them are overtly religious families who back Hamas. At least one other shopkeeper in the street refuses to vote at all. All speak anxiously about the factional violence and fear of civil war that has gripped the Palestinian territories in the past weeks. But many also share a profound frustration with all their political leadership.

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