At the risk of violating Fisk's injunction not to draw spurious comparisons with Nazi Germany (2), Hamas is behaving in a very similar manner to the Nazi party in the twenties and, particularly, the thirties - having attained power, Hitler and his bandits - who never enjoyed a majority of support in Germany before they were "jobbed into office by a backstairs intrigue" (3) set about terrorising, proscribing and destroying all opposition. This included internal foci of dissent, as Rohm and Gregor Strasser found out, to their cost.
There are also fears that Hamas will tighten repressive measures against dissidents, after a wave of shootings and arrests. A Fatah activist, Eyad Obeid, says he was in a shop near his home last week when a 4x4 vehicle pulled up. Four masked men carrying AK-47s seized him, took him away and subjected him to an ordeal which ended with him being shot in his left leg below the knee. Fatah says there were dozens of similar incidents during and after the war. And this is beside the killings – admitted by Hamas – of those suspected of informing Israel of Hamas targets.
Mr Obeid, who was not accused of informing, says he was repeatedly questioned about his Fatah connections and his previous job in Ramallah-run Preventative Security before being pulled out of the car and shot.
And if the Israeli bombing all around them was not enough to worry about, the most horrifying moment of the war for the Najar family started at around 7.30pm on 4 January, when 10 masked, armed Palestinians in black tunics descended on the alley where the menfolk were gathered outside their house in northern Gaza City round a pot of tea over a wood fire, necessitated by the lack of electricity or cooking gas.
The men all obeyed the gunmen's orders to lie on the ground except Hisham, 51, who asked the men what they wanted. Women and children came out from the house to see what was happening. One of the men slapped Hisham, others rose to intervene, and the gunmen opened fire. Hisham was killed, and 11 others were wounded, including his 70-year-old mother and her 12-year-old granddaughter. "For me a rocket from the Israelis would be better than this," said Mohammed Najar, 41, the dead man's brother. "The children are still terrified at what happened. They wet themselves at night."
The family admits to supporting Fatah but says there was no reason to attack them; they are careful not to accuse Hamas but Mohammed complains that the faction, as the ruling authority in Gaza, has done nothing to investigate the crime. (1)
The same thing is happening in Gaza. Just as the Nazis used the - justifiable - resentment over the treaty of Versailles and the misery of the Great Depression to build support, Hamas are profiting from the sufferring Israel is inflicting on the Palestinians. Now the second face, consolidating the gains, has started in earnest. As long as Hamas can survive, it can look forward to a future as the strongest - possibly even sole - voice of the Palestinians. This even though it will probably not enjoy majority support. Opposition will be eradicated or cowed into silence. Hamas will ensure it propsers, and Israel will reap the consequences of the seeds being sown now, for years to come.
1 - "Gaza counts the cost – and assigns blame," by Donald MacIntyre, published in The Independent, 1st of February, 2009. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/gaza-counts-the-cost-ndash-and-assigns-blame-1522547.html)
2 - "When it comes to Gaza, leave the Second World War out of it," by Robert Fisk, published in The Independent, 17th of January, 2009. (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fiskrsquos-world-when-it-comes-to-gaza-leave-the-second-world-war-out-of-it-1418270.html)
3 - Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, by Alan Bullock, revised edition, published by Pelican, 1962, page 253.