Home inSight The Other War

The Other War

Shoshana Bryen
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting at the Kremlin on February 12, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.

The Hamas terror attack on three Israelis in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday, and the death of one, received little attention in the American press. The victims were Jews who had just visited the Western Wall to pray, and the deceased was planning to soon be married. Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip handed out sweets to children in honor of the terror, and a sobbing Palestinian child tore at his sweater and mourned his teacher, the perpetrator Fahdi Abu Shahidam, wailing, “He was a good man. He never cursed anyone except the Jews, may Allah burn them.”

Nothing there to interest the Western press, apparently.

But there is one important element of this attack that must be understood, as the Biden administration continues to insist that the creation of a Palestinian state next to the State of Israel is necessary for regional peace and prosperity, and aims to create a Hamas-Fatah unity government for purposes of negotiation.

The Palestinians are at war with Israel, yes. But Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and supported by Iran, and Fatah, the more-secular-but-not-secular branch of Palestinian nationalism, are also at war with one another. They fought bloody battles in 2007, with people throwing their enemies off rooftops. Fatah has not exercised any control in Gaza since then. And the Palestinian legislature, in which Hamas won a majority in 2006 (the only election ever held), has never met because Palestinian strongman Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t want it to meet.

Fear of another Hamas electoral victory was the impetus for Abbas to cancel the planned election earlier this year. In the month-long run-up to the Hamas rocket war against Israel, including early rounds of rocket fire to which Israel pointedly did not respond, Abbas incited violence against Jews, hoping to have Israel blamed for the election’s cancelation. Angry at the lost chance, Hamas asserted itself against Fatah in Jerusalem, including demonstrating on the Temple Mount with Hamas flags, which are rarely seen there.

Eleven days of war with Israel didn’t change anything. Only hours after the ceasefire, the Associated Press reported that thousands of Hamas supporters demonstrated against the rule of Abbas in the West Bank, chanting, “Dogs of the Palestinian Authority, out, out. The people want the president to leave.”

Intra-Palestinian violence ensued, but was largely ignored in the West.

Terror against the people of Israel is one of the few points of agreement between Hamas and Fatah—and killing Jews is, for them, an avocation. But terror against Jews is also part of a separate war that the Biden administration and its “peace process” friends seem to have missed.

A Hamas attack in Jerusalem is a deliberate affront to Fatah, and part of the process of establishing Hamas as the better organized, more energetic organization—and the one more likely to eradicate Israel. It is fear of being overthrown that leads Fatah to maintain security cooperation with Israel in the territories despite its rhetoric, and leads the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet to continually seek out and remove Hamas assets. Yaniv Kubovich of Haaretz recently reported, “Over 50 Hamas operatives suspected of planning terror attacks have been arrested in the West Bank, the Shin Bet security agency said… The agency said it had uncovered in recent weeks a major Hamas network in the West Bank seeking to commit terror attacks, including within Israel. The Shin Bet added that it had found a variety of weapons, including materials for assembling four explosive belts.”

Hence, the problem (or at least one of them): The vaunted “two-state solution” functionally requires the dissolution of one of the existing three governing bodies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel demurs and the other two are at war with one another. On a broader scale, the area of what was formerly known as Mandatory Palestine was supposed to become the original “two-state solution.” It includes the Kingdom of Jordan. The Palestinian movement has been explicitly anti-Hashemite since 1968, and went to war against King Hussein in 1970 – the bloody Black September. The current King is thus an unlikely partner for either Hamas or Fatah. In fact, as Israel protects Fatah from Hamas, it protects King Abdullah II from Palestinian radicals of all sorts, as well as from Iran and its proxies.

For Western media—and the American government—to ignore terrorism against Jews or Israelis is shameful. Shameful, too, is the media’s apparent inability to understand the deadly wars that underly Palestinian terrorism, as well as the reasons they won’t be resolved by American platitudes or bribery.