The "Palestinian Winograd" on Hamas' victory in Gaza

The report of a Palestinian committee investigating events leading to Hamas' takeover in Gaza presents severe criticism of the operative failures of the Palestinian Authority.

In his Ha'aretz column (6/3/08), Zvi Ba'rel describes the report of the "The Investigative Committee on the Matter of the Failure of the Confrontation with the Illegal Armed Militias," the committee that looked into the events that led to the Hamas takeover in the Gaza strip. The report is a result of the work by a commission appointed by the Palestinian Authority.

The importance of this report lies in the fact that it presents the first critical analysis of the political and operational structure of the PA. The report constitutes a primary source to understanding the low carrying capacity of the PA under Abu- Mazen. This is reflected in two main areas:

  • A conceptual - leadership failure which is mainly expressed by the absence of an approach on how to cope with movements that rely on a religious platform, such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad. As a result, despite apparently being aware of Hamas plans in advance, the PA leadership was unsuccessful in preventing the movement's takeover in Gaza.
  • Structural and operational problems - The PA was characterized by internal disagreements, clan loyalties, inter - generational struggles, personal rivalries and ideological - party battles. The military and political powerlessness also derived from the lack of lack of coordination between different branches as well as between the forces in the field and their headquarters. Moreover, the corruption and the significant waste of money within the Palestinian political system further undermined the authority's efficiency.

The report, which describes the period preceding Hamas' takeover in Gaza is also relevant today as most of the deficiencies within the PA have not been corrected. The PA's weak carrying capacity could therefore become a significant obstacle in the negotiation process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Furthermore, the authors of the report warn that unless the Palestinians carry out major reform, the PA may collapse in the West Bank might and pave the way for Hamas control there aswell.

Zvi Ba'rel, Ha'aretz, 6/3/08