Some reports out of Gaza yesterday indicated that Hamas had simply executed Fatah prisoners in the casually brutal style associated with the Taliban’s years of power in Afghanistan. The reports I have read today do not dwell on these mentions from yesterday, and seem intent on downplaying the seismic nature of the Hamas coup in Gaza. This bit did leak through into the New York Times:
Bystanders were shocked. Ghassan Hashem, 37, a civil servant, said: “I see Iraq here. There is no mercy. We are afraid. See how ferocious this fight was? There is no future for us.”
Islam Shahwan, a spokesman for the Hamas militia, told Hamas radio triumphantly: “The era of justice and Islamic rule have arrived.”
The battle for the Preventive Security compound lasted 24 hours, and neighbors said they saw members of the force who surrendered being shot in the legs. Others reported having witnessed executions.
The Washington Post’s account begins with Hamas’ declaration of “amnesty” and hopeful words about “reconciliation”:
Victorious Hamas gunmen rounded up senior military leaders of the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip early Friday, then announced a general amnesty in a sign the Islamic movement is seeking to reconcile with its secular rivals after five days of fierce fighting.
Buried deep in the story is this graph:
Witnesses said Hamas fighters led Fatah officers from the building at gunpoint — some shirtless, others injured, with hands raised. Some Hamas men fell to their knees and prayed. Another group raised the green Hamas banner over the compound.
Witnesses, Fatah officials and a doctor reported executions by Hamas militants of defeated Fatah fighters Thursday; Fatah said seven of its men were shot in the head gangland-style. Hamas denied any such killings.
Had Israel used even a distant cousin of Hamas’ tactics, the international outcry and coverage would have been enormous and enduring. Condemnations would have rolled down on Israel like an avalanche, and would have kept rolling as they do after every clash between Israel and its enemies.
But here as we watch the rise of an ominous terrorist enclave just as brutal as the Taliban was or al Qaeda in Iraq is, the world is largely silent, paralyzed at the prospect of condemning an enemy of Israel.”The rise of Hamas in Gaza represents the extension of Iranian influence to Israel’s south,” Scott Johnson notes at Powerline this morning. “The result is untenable. It constitutes one more chapter in what Churchill called ‘the gathering storm.'” He’s right of course, but American media seems almost wholly indifferent to this expanding crisis. Democrats can’t stop demanding defeat in Iraq long enough to note the connections between the battles in Iraq and those in lebanon and Gaza.
It will not be long before al Qaeda’s representatives are firmly ensconced in Gaza –they may already be there, and the distinction between Hamas and al Qaeda, like the distinction between Hezbollah and Iran, may already be more academic than real. The connections between Sunni Islamist radicalism and Shia Islamist radicalism are also obvious, and do not appear to be at all troubled by the savage sectarian blows one delivers the other in various cities around Iraq. It is very confusing for the Western media eager for a storyline that makes Bush the prime mover behind the world’s troubles, but the blindness of the Beltway-Manhattan media elites doesn’t give an excuse to the political leadership in D.C.
The fall of Gaza to radical Islamist totalitarians with a deep desire to destroy Israel completely and a certain receptivity to terrorists eager to strike at Europe and the U.S. is the worst news since 9/11. That it is hardly noticed by a media eager to see Libby join Hilton in jail underscores the incredible absurdity of our time.