Ghazi Hamad

In at the deep end for Abu Mazen

Only hours after Mahmoud Abbas was sworn in as president of the Palestinian Authority, he found himself in the middle of a crisis. The Israeli government announced it would freeze all contacts with him, prompting negotiations affairs minister Saeb Erekat to accuse Israel of planning to do to Abu Mazen what it had done to the late President Yasser Arafat, who ended up besieged in his headquarters and almost completely frozen out of the diplomatic loop. Events had snowballed for the new president after a joint operation by three armed factions on the Mintar (Karni) Crossing on January 14 claimed the lives of six Israelis. 

Divisions emerge over Qassams

Israeli Defense minister Shaul Mofaz dubbed them a “serious threat to the security of Israel,” while the western press has called them variously the “wild card of the Middle East” (CNN) or the “homemade rockets that may change the Middle East” (Time). For a weapon that didn’t claim a fatality until June 28 of this year, the Qassam rockets have gained widespread notoriety. Qassam rockets are primitive homemade rockets developed by Hamas’ military wing, the Izzedin Al Qassam brigades, during the Aqsa Intifada. Palestine Report’s Ghazi Hamad looks at the Palestinian debate surrounding the weapons.