I'm beginning to see a pattern. Baghdad was relatively safe and quiet when I arrived in October 2003. We could still go out to restaurants and drive around town. A month later, the insurgency really kicked off with the rocketing of the al-Rashid hotel. This time, I arrived to the West Bank a month ago to a quiet environment, and now, a month later, things are heating up. What am I doing wrong??
I returned to Ramallah Sunday evening after a weekend away to find the streets were deserted and every shop was closed. I found out the next day about the clashes in Gaza and the storming of the cabinet office in Ramallah. Yesterday, everything in Ramallah was again closed, according to the news, the general strike was called by Fatah as a protest to Hamas’ actions in Gaza. They closed the university as well; we were told to evacuate campus as soon as possible in the middle of my morning class.
In my social science class, the professor opened with that question. “Will there be a civil war in Palestine?” The consensus was that there would definitely not be , but that civil infighting would present a unique horror for Palestinians, with them fighting and destroying each other, while Israel could continue to land grab and plot for the future while the Palestinians are distracted.
My social science professor saw Sunday’s actions by Hamas in Gaza as a warning to Fatah, provoked by recent talk of holding new elections. Hamas seeks to remind everyone that it won the elections and is not to be trifled with. Although, most people now think that if elections were held again, Hamas would not win because people are tired of the current stalemate.
There is hope that when Mahmoud Abbas returns in a few days, he will in earnest address the violence and the current stalemate, but no one is optimistic the situation will change anytime soon.