Friday, July 27, 2007

Fatah General calls Hamas 'Bloodthirsty'

In an article in the Jerusalem Post, a general from Palestinian Authority President Abbas' Fatah party recounted the last days of Hamas' bloody takeover of Gaza. Here are some excerpts:

"We were surrounded by hundreds of Hamas gunmen in our bases and offices in the security zone near the Gaza City beach. I had about 35 men with me and we were planning to fight to the end...

"I knew that I was wanted by Hamas and that's why I decided to fight to the end. I knew that Hamas was going to kill me anyway and that I had nothing to lose. On Thursday night [June 14], hours before Hamas completed its coup, I managed to fire dozens of rocket-propelled grenades at them. I inflicted heavy damages on them. I taught them a lesson that they will never forget.

"But when I finally realized that Hamas's forces were advancing toward our security zone, I decided to leave the area. At around 2 a.m. on Friday morning I ran away toward the Egyptian security delegation's offices on the 10th floor of a tower near my base. I covered my face with a keffiyeh and threw my rifle away.

"Shortly after I entered the Egyptians' office, about 30 Hamas gunmen stormed the area and detained me. They did not care about the fact that this was an office belonging to the Egyptian security forces. They dragged me down to the street, where most buildings and houses were on fire.

"As we stood there, I asked the Hamas people: 'Why don't you execute me and dump my body in the flames?' Actually I begged them to execute me because I knew I was going to be tortured. Before they put me in a jeep, I saw the Hamas gunmen execute several people right in front of me. They were shooting all the detainees. I was sure that one of them was going to shoot me in the head. But they later blindfolded me and took me to a place where I was held for about 12 hours.

"In this place, there were a number of senior security commanders who had also been captured by Hamas. We were all told that we were going to be executed immediately after our interrogation. They asked us many questions and kept us locked in small rooms. We had no idea where we were being held. Some of us were beaten severely."

The general, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was eventually released due to the intervention of a Fatah official close to the Hamas leadership. He was then allowed to escape Gaza and enter the West Bank. Asked if he would return to the Gaza Strip, the general replied:

"If I go back, Hamas will kill me immediately. I'm wanted by them. My wife and children are still there and Hamas has burned my house. I don't know what's going to happen now, but I'm not optimistic. These Hamas people are murderers and bloodthirsty. They are using religion as an excuse to commit crimes even against their own people."

Though the general showed great disdain for Hamas and its bloody coup, he also admitted admiration for their strategy:
"Everything was carefully planned. They were closing in on us from all directions. You could see that they were operating according to a good plan.

"They managed to isolate Khan Yunis from the rest of the Gaza Strip. Then they isolated Rafah and other cities. They even divided Gaza City into separate zones and kept moving ahead."

We will have to see whether Abbas' Fatah forces can similarly execute such strategy against Hamas operatives in the West Bank, while reigning in corruption and random violence perpetrated by militias linked to his own party. So far, things are actually looking promising. More on this later.