Forholdene i Gaza er ubeskrivlige. Ikke på grunn av Israel, men fordi palestinerne går løs på hverandre. Når man leser Peter Beaumonts reportasje, lurer man på hvorfor ikke det er dette debatten i Norge handler om, og ikke en Israel-boikott som er flere år foreldet.
Er det fordi tanken på at palestinerne ødelegger for seg selv er vanskelig å ta inn over seg?
The war came to Beit Hanoun like this. Hussein al-Kafarna was driving his wealthy uncle’s Mitsubishi four-wheel drive on 3 November last year when a donkey-cart driver from the rival al-Masri family crashed into him.
Enraged, Hussein went to the al-Masris to demand compensation. In the argument that followed he fired his pistol twice into the air and then used it to club the cart driver’s head. Nine people were killed and dozens more injured in the ensuing violence as the families – the Capulets and Montagues of Gaza – went to war.
Neutral residents of the families’ battleground fled as scores of gunmen fought running battles between the al-Kafarna neighbourhoods and the adjoining al-Masri areas, barricading streets and strafing Beit Hanoun from atop its water tower and taller buildings.
Last week a hudna – a ceasefire without a resolution of the issues – was in place. But as the families crowded into the city’s streets to celebrate the feast of Eid al-Adha, the gunmen were among them. An argument developed over the conditions of the truce. Within two hours the families were at war again. It is not only here that Gaza’s families are fighting. South of Gaza City in Khan Younis another feud is raging following a row between two fishermen. Whole areas are warring, fortified strongholds that crackle with gunfire after dark.
It is the family wars that best underline the escalating sense of crisis. Guns and bombs, not the courts and police, have become the medium for restitution. Nasser Shabbat, a community leader in Beit Hanoun, blames the authority for the conditions spawning the violence. ‘The families began to believe Palestinian society could not protect itself, so they decided to protect themselves.’ Like many of those from families neutral in the conflict, Shabbat reels off what he sees as the authority’s errors: political corruption, weak and compromised security forces and a willingness to tolerate powerful families operating illegally.
In a tower block in Beit Lahiya, on the edge of Beit Hanoun, Shabbat and his brother Said, an engineer, whose young nephew was hit by a stray round in the fighting, explain the collapse of law and order. Even as they speak, rattling gunfire is audible near by. ‘You have to ask,’ says Said, ‘why the same families, with long histories of friction, were controlled for generations, through the British mandate, Egyptian rule, the Israeli occupation and the recent intifada, with almost no killings?
Since the Israeli withdrawal ordered by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the unity of rival groups against the occupation has collapsed, and the young former fighters have turned their violence within. In the Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahiya the head nurse – identifying himself only as Eyad – admits he is scared that casualties from the Masri-Kafarna war might be brought in. The government has designated different hospitals for the casualties of each side, but one gunman was killed in an intensive care unit by rival fighters.
Law and order has collapsed in Gaza ahead of elections this month. Powerful clans, suddenly without a common enemy to unite them, are killing each other and seeking to sweep aside the heirs of Arafat, condemned as weak and corrupt
Peter Beaumont in Beit Hanoun