Friday, February 02, 2007

Here comes the next truce

Back in the days of the Bosnian stage of the Balkan Wars of the nineties, with all sorts of worthies, such as Lord Owen, running around desperately trying to pretend that you could a plaster on that gaping wound, Matt in the Daily Telegraph drew one of his brilliant cartoons.

It showed a man looking at his watch and saying, "And the time according to the next cease-fire will be …". I felt the same way when I read the news that the truce between Hamas and Fatah has broken down but there will be another one today.

Though this does get reported a bit, there is, as ever, very little general interest and no protests whatsoever, despite the fact that, as the BBC World Service website reports:
Fourteen people - including a woman and two children, plus at least two gunmen from either side and a senior member of Mr Abbas' intelligence service - were killed in clashes on Friday, bringing the death toll over 24 hours to at least 20.
Imagine if Israel had been responsible or deemed to be responsible for the death of a woman and two children. We’d have riots on the streets of London.

The truce had been agreed on Tuesday and sort of held through Wednesday, though there was one casualty. Then, on Thursday it all broke down. Hamas accused the United States (naturally, who else could be at fault) of encouraging trouble by supplying Fatah with arms. They then ambushed a truck that, they said, was carrying some of those arms. Fatah has denied this. But, as Al-Jazeera reports:
Six Palestinians were killed and another 70 wounded on Thursday after Hamas ambushed a presidential guard supply convoy from Egypt.

One guard was left dead although Fatah denied the trucks were transporting weapons.
Reuters gives yet higher figures and describes a greater mayhem today:
Fighting between rival Palestinian factions escalated across Gaza on Friday, killing at least 17 people, as Hamas overran compounds used by President Mahmoud Abbas's forces and two major universities were set ablaze.
The same report talks of further efforts to restore some semblance of peace:
Following a telephone call by Hamas's political leader Khaled Meshaal to Abbas and Egyptian-mediated talks in Gaza between Abbas's Fatah group and Hamas, a senior Fatah leader said the two sides had agreed to attempt another cease-fire and withdraw their gunmen from the streets.

"A meeting will be held on Saturday to continue laying down the mechanisms to reach out for a comprehensive calm," Samir al-Mashhrawi told reporters in Gaza.

At the urging of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, Abbas of Fatah and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal agreed to hold meetings in the holy Muslim city of Mecca to try to renew unity talks. Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdainah said they would meet on Tuesday.
Of course, nobody has had the bad taste to call it a civil war.


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