Sunday, June 17, 2007

Choosing between two governments in Gaza

In Gaza the reality of being ruled by two governments for some is becoming a daily dilemma. My neighbor Mohamed is a police officer and responsible for security at the AlAqsa University in Gaza City. His superiors in the West Bank have informed him he is to remain home and will continue to receive his monthly salary. In return local Hamas authorities have informed the police force that they will be dismissed from the police if they do not appear for work.

Mohamed is faced with a tough decision, does he respect local authorities, which after all represent the Palestinian people’s elected government and at the end of the day are those that have most say in his day to day life in Gaza (after all the Fatah authorities deserted him along with other non-Hamas supporters, in Gaza)? Or, will he obey those that actually pay his salary, the new emergency government, not elected by the people and yet the governing body recognized by the West and other Arab nations alike as the sole representing political body of the Palestinians?

Mohamed says his colleagues will determine their actions according to who is paying their salaries. If the local Hamas authorities will pay them for their services they will obey them and go to work. If they continue to be paid by the President and his new emergency government in the West Bank they will remain at home.

Word has gone around that some officers will report to the West Bank authorities which members of the police force are obeying Hamas orders and working and that these will then be removed from their posts and their salaries canceled. This way they say the emergency government will determine who is a Hamas supporter (those that obey Hamas orders and work) and those that are Fatah supporters (those that obey Fatah orders and remain at work).

The future is unclear. How long will the Hamas government last in Gaza? Will the emergency Fatah government actually stand by “its people” in Gaza as it promised today? How about the economic boycott that is beginning to be carried out, within two days Gaza will run out of petrol, the electricity company will be forced to shut down, within a week supplies of most basic foods will run dry, will Israel continue the economic blockade?

Meanwhile, temporary Hamas policemen took to the streets today wearing brand new Hamas vests; traffic in the streets has never been so organized and disciplined. Finally, the Gaza Strip has just one government and just one police force governing it. A sense of order and security are the upsides that come along with the fear of a very uncertain future.

Meanwhile, a Katyusha
rocket fired from Lebanon, landed in Israel. With a government proving itself to be rather incapable, Israel is getting into one prickly situation after another and sending 20,000 soldiers into Gaza sounds to me like another worthless bloodbath.