Veteran South African journalist and TIME.com senior editor Tony Karon cut to the heart of what's happening under the headline "Palestinian Pinochet Makes His Move":
"The Fatah gunmen who are reported to have initiated the breakdown of the Palestinian unity government may profess fealty to President Abbas, but it's not from him that they get their orders. They answer is Mohammed Dahlan, the Gaza warlord who has long been Washington's anointed favorite to play the role of a Palestinian Pinochet. Needless to say, only a U.S. administration as deluded about its ability to reorder Arab political realities in line with its own fantasies - and also, frankly, as utterly contemptuous of Arab life and of Arab democracy - as the current one would imagine that the Palestinians could be starved, battered and manipulated into choosing a Washington-approved political leadership."
Israeli government officials say outright that their own bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza (combined with support for Dahlan) is designed to destroy the Palestinian unity government and any Palestinian faction resistant to Israeli political demands. (Against this backdrop, the June 10 "The World Says No to Israeli Occupation" Mobilization - go to http://www.endtheoccupation.org/ for full information - is more important than ever.
Palestinian civilians are also the main victims of the current fighting at Palestinian refugee camps in northern Lebanon. The U.S.-supplied Lebanese army is bombarding civilian areas in its fight with the Al-Qaeda-linked militant Sunni group Fatah al-Islam. Thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee to other camps where they are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
Ironically, as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh told CNN International, it is U.S. policy that nurtured Fatah al-Islam in the first place:
"The current situation is much like that during the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980s - which gave rise to al Qaeda - with the same people involved in both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and the same pattern of the U.S. using jihadists that the Saudis assure us they can control. Since the Israelis lost the war with [the Shia-based] Hezbollah last summer, the fear of Hezbollah in the White House, is acute. As a result... we're in the business of supporting the Sunnis anywhere we can against the Shia... We're in the business of creating... sectarian violence."
From War Times, May 30, 2007