Israel can probably prevent another Hamas coup, this time in the West Bank, because the IDF has much more freedom to operate there as well as good intelligence. Hamas is also weaker than in Gaza. But that assuredly does not mean that there is no danger from Hamas cells in the West Bank:
Hamas is planning to carry out suicide bombings in order to undermine the efforts by Israel and the West to bolster Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told the cabinet yesterday. Diskin also warned that the impression that Fatah is powerful in the West Bank is only an illusion…
The Shin Bet head also warned that Fatah is a divided organization, and without a strong party it will be impossible for Abbas’ forces to prevent terrorism in the West Bank.
Military Intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin told the cabinet yesterday that during its takeover of the Gaza Strip, Hamas took control of Fatah arsenals and arms stockpiles there.
He also pointed out to the recent arrests of Hamas members by Fatah in the West Bank and described them as “not serious.” — Ha’aretz
It’s incumbent on Israel to be very, very cautious with regard to US proposals to arm Fatah against Hamas. Fatah has numerous armed militias under its umbrella, and arms given to one can easily end up in the hands of another — even apart from the risk of Hamas getting them.
For example, Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades have carried out many terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, sometimes in cooperation with other groups such as the Islamic Jihad, etc. The al-Aqsa Brigades were responsible for 126 Israeli deaths between 2001-2006! The suicide bombing that killed 3 in Eilat this year was a joint al-Aqsa/Islamic Jihad operation. And Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas is unable or unwilling to stop them.
From time to time it’s discovered, to everyone’s great shock, that members of the Palestinian Authority ‘security’ forces are also members of the al-Aqsa Brigades. So they don’t even need to bother to sell the weapons that the US provides!
Unfortunately, it looks like the US is ramping up pressure on this issue:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is not ruling out the possibility of transferring military equipment, including armored vehicles and bulletproof vests, to the Palestinians, he said during a security consultation on Sunday.
“Decisions on this matter will be made according to the recommendations of Major-General Keith Dayton, who has been entrusted to build the Palestinian forces. Any recommendation by Dayton will be considered by the defense establishment. Only then will we decide,” Olmert said. — YNet
It seems to me that it’s the height of folly to give guns to your proven enemies — or to allow your allies to do so.