Gaza's New Strongmen

Now that Israel is gone, the Palestinian Authority faces a new foe: armed militias that want to clean house and take their piece of the pie. Meet the Sopranos of the Middle East

Jamal Abu Samhadana meets visitors in a narrow first-floor room in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah, in a dwelling lit only by a small, battery-powered fluorescent strip. He proffers a misshapen right hand for a shake. Shrapnel from an Israeli tank shell broke Abu Samhadana's forearm in 2001. His hand looks caved in, his wrist bends grotesquely and his skin is unnaturally smooth and hairless, as though the limbs had been melted. For a tough guy like Abu Samhadana, such disfigurements are badges of authenticity. "Luckily," he says, "I shoot with my left hand."

Although rarely seen in public, Abu Samhadana...

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