Yassin's death may be end of PA in Gaza
It is very possible that the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin will be the final nail in the coffin of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. Just recently there were attempts to rehabilitate, even slightly, the PA security forces.
It is very possible that the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin will be the final nail in the coffin of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. Just recently there were attempts to rehabilitate, even slightly, the PA security forces: The Palestinian National Security Council, headed by Yasser Arafat, published a plan for imposing law and order in the Strip, and the Palestinian media reported on special forces that had begun patrolling the streets of Gaza.
In at least one case, such a patrol stopped a suspicious car, which was carrying Hamas men and weapons. When the patrol tried to arrest the passengers in the car, a gun battle erupted, killing one and wounding many.
The effort to restore law and order in Gaza included foreign assistance. The head of Egyptian intelligence, General Omar Suleiman, and Egyptian presidential advisor Osama el -Baz promised to train the Palestinian security services and the training program was to begin in the coming days. There was also talk of a British effort to establish a joint control and command center for all the security forces in Gaza, to enable them to coordinate their efforts.
Now it looks like there will no need for any of this. The situation after the assassination of Yassin does not appear fortuitous for any rehabilitation of the PA's rule in Gaza. Why not? Seemingly, assassinating Yassin should weaken Hamas. And when Hamas is weakened, it is easier for the PA's security apparatus to impose rule in Gaza and disarm the Hamas men.
But according to the reports coming from Gaza, the opposite is true. Yesterday morning, with news of the sheikh's assassination came reports of outbreaks against the PA in Rafah, Gaza City, and the major refugee camps; anti-PA slogans appeared on walls near Yassin's house; and the offices once used by Yasser Arafat were stoned by Hamas supporters.
The PA is perceived by the residents of the Strip as a pitiful entity, unable to struggle against Israel or to stop the daily killing of Gazans. The ongoing contacts between PA officials and Israelis at the middle and lower levels have turned the PA officials into despicable collaborators.
Therefore, the atmosphere created in Gaza does not allow for any talk of Palestinian action against Hamas. Anyone who would now dare to limit the movements of Hamas activists would immediately be considered as accomplices to the Israelis who murdered the sheikh.
True, that's not exactly new. For quite some time, the atmosphere in the street has prevented the Palestinian security forces from taking steps against Hamas. Last year there were some cases in which PA police moved to arrest Hamas men but angry Palestinian mobs blocked their way, preventing the arrests.
Last week in Ramallah, one leader of the Palestinian security forces said many of his men simply refused orders when told to take steps against Hamas men. "If you have soldiers in the IDF who aren't ready to uproot settlers, we have ten times more police who refuse to do something against the brothers from Hamas," he said.
If until now the Palestinian regime was weak and helpless, it will now be paralyzed completely. It is doubtful that this regime can continue functioning in anything concerning foreign affairs and security. An East Jerusalem journalist said yesterday that the assassination of Yassin will lead to the collapse of the Ahmed Qureia government.
The entire idea of electing a Palestinian prime minister was meant to enable the opening a a renewed political process. But now, no such process appears possible and therefore, there's no need for Qureia and his government. While yesterday's assassination could severely harm Israel's security, the political damage to the Palestinian Authority appears to be much worse.