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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Bande de Gaza, l’autre conflit occulté

by Hassane Zerrouky

Gaza Strip: the other Hidden Conflict

Translated Saturday 19 August 2006, by Henry Crapo

Palestine: Despite a pitiless Israëli repression, the Hamas and Fatah have decided to reopen their discussions on the formation of a coalition government

The Israëli aggression against Lebanon has to some extent eclipsed the war waged by Tel-Aviv against the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The death, yesterday, of a Palestinian civilian, killed by soldiers near the Al-Boureij refugee camp in the center of the Gaza Strip, brings to 178 the number of persons killed since the beginning of the Israëli offensive last 28 June, and to 5331 the number of Palestinian dead, more than a third of them children, since the beginning of the Intifada in September 2000. Wednesday night it was a steel factory in Gaza that was the target of Israëli state aircraft, but there were no victims.

Not a day passes but that Palestinians, a majority of them civilians, are killed in this region of occupied Palestine. Meanwhile, the soldier Shalit, who serves as pretext for this muscular intervention, remains unfound. Given its fire power, without equal in the region, the Israëli army, deploying more than a thousand soldiers, backed up by dozens of tanks, meets only a slight armed resistance. As proof, since 28 June, they count only one single death in their ranks. And what is more, according to many Palestinians, since the imposition of a blockade on the Gaza Strip, this region has become "the largest prison on earth".

Add to this the freeze on international aid decreed by Washington and the European Union, and you have a considerably aggravated financial and economic crisis in the occupied territories.

On the edges of this daily violence inflicted opon an entire people, and the persistent tensions between the armed groups of Hamas and the Fatah, the leaders of these factions, meeting with leaders of other Palestinian groups, decided on Wednesday to reopen their discussions toward the formation of a government of national unity. One must bear in mind that last June the negotiations for an agreement based on a document drafted by Palestinian government members detained in Israël, among whom was Marwan Barghouti, were interrupted by the Israëli military offensive following an attack by an extremist Palestinian group on a unit of the Israëli army, during which the soldier Shalit was taken prisoner. This agreement, which was very close to approval, contains an explicit recognition by the Hamas of the State of Israël. By launching its military offensive, Israël scuttled the agreement, thus permitting the most radical elements of Hamas to return to power in order to oppose this recognition.
At the present time, while the President Mahmoud Abbas is counting on seeing the Hamas soften its position on the question of recognition of Israël, the Islamic leaders place two preconditions on the formation of a government of national unity: the imperative release of 60 ministers and deputies arrested two months ago by israël in the West Bank, and that the coalition government be led by a member of Hamas, which the Fatah refuses.

Published in l’Humanité on Friday, 18 August 2006, on page 10

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