Despite Repression, Hamas Survives in Shadows of Palestinian-Run West Bank

Is Islamist Group's Main Fight With Israel — Or Rival Fatah?

One-Faction State: Palestinians protest the high cost of living in the West Bank. The ruling Fatah faction keeps a lid on any opposition, especially from its Islamist rival Hamas.
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One-Faction State: Palestinians protest the high cost of living in the West Bank. The ruling Fatah faction keeps a lid on any opposition, especially from its Islamist rival Hamas.

By Reuters

Published May 26, 2013.
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In Silwad village in the West Bank, historian and Hamas supporter Awni Fares points to the rocky hills clustered with ancient olive trees where British colonial bases and Ottoman outposts once stood, long swept aside by history.

The PA’s inability to halt the spread of Jewish settlements in the West Bank or deliver a peace deal vindicates Hamas, which demonstrated its resolve in its latest war with Israel last November, said the bearded and bespectacled teacher.

“The sense is growing that through resistance, we can win,” Fares said. “Fighting occupation by any means is a right. You see Ofra settlement here? They attack us, they take our land. To us, Zionism is the worst kind of colonialism. It threatens our existence.

“There’s no room for a Gandhi here,” he added.

Fares has spent five years in Israeli jails and two months detained by the PA. He denies engaging in armed activity.

IS THIS DEMOCRACY?

The PA’s rights body said 750 employees from public schools had complained of losing their jobs since 2007 for their party leanings, among many hundreds of other fired government workers.

Hamas’s West Bank rump takes moral high ground from its 2006 electoral victory, arguing that it was never given the opportunity to govern. Abbas has postponed elections for his own presidential post and extended his term for four years.

Idle in her Nablus office in the northern West Bank, Hamas legislator Mona Mansur sits beneath a portrait of her husband, a top Hamas political leader killed by an Israeli missile strike in 2001 at the height of the Palestinians’ Second Intifada.

“After gunmen burned down Hamas MPs’ offices in 2007, the security forces monitor visitors to my office. They even stopped and questioned a human rights lawyer,” she said.


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