Today’s announcement appears to suggest that the PA is declaring war on Hamas, says Hamad, and the Islamic organization will respond by attacking Israel to embarrass Arafat. “Cracking down on Hamas may impress the U.S. and Israel, but it puts the PA in conflict with a significant portion of the Palestinian population,” says Hamad. Even if the PA has declared the Sharif case closed, that means little if they fail to convince Hamas -- who are, after all, the ones who do the bombing.
The possibility of a Palestinian civil war appears to be growing, following today’s announcement by Arafat’s Palestinian Authority (PA) that Hamas leader Mohiyedine Sharif was killed by members of his own organization. “The PA has not yet proved that this allegation is based on fact rather than on wishful thinking,” says TIME West Bank correspondent Jamil Hamad. “Very few people buy the idea that Sharif was killed as a result of a dispute within Hamas, because the differences in Hamas are not strong enough to lead to fighting or assassinations.”