Monday, October 22, 2007

"Gaza takeover was serious mistake'

Hamas's violent takeover of Gaza in June was a "serious strategic mistake," a former Hamas government spokesman wrote in a scathing letter posted on a Web site affiliated with Hamas' political rival, Fatah. It is unusual for Hamas members to go public with internal disagreements, and it was not immediately clear whether the five-page letter by the former spokesman, Ghazi Hamad, was intended for publication.
Hamad could not be reached for comment Sunday.
He stepped down from his post after Hamas defeated Fatah-allied security forces in Gaza in a week of fighting this summer. Hamad stayed on as a consultant to the head of the Gaza government, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
In the letter, Hamad wrote that Hamas paid a high price for the takeover of Gaza, including increasing international isolation and even tighter economic sanctions.
"I think what Hamas resorted to - the military resolution in Gaza - was not justified," he wrote. "I consider it a serious strategic mistake that burdened the movement with more than it can bear."
"True, it resolved a security problem, but it created a thousand political problems that we didn't need," he wrote. Hamas "became isolated, besieged, in a narrow strip (Gaza). The grip increased, the closure tightened, and people's suffering increased."
In a sign of his despair, Hamad wrote: "Oh God!! Where did we get to and where does this lead us? What catastrophe awaits us?"
Hamad has become increasingly distant from the group's official stance. Last week, he said Hamas had no objections to negotiating with Israel if it was in the interests of Palestinians.
The group quickly disavowed Hamad's statement, saying he only spoke for himself; Hamas refuses to recognize Israel or negotiate with it.

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