Since 2006, Palestinians have not returned to the polls. At the time, Hamas's victory in the legislative elections provoked an earthquake in the eyes of the international community and destabilized the local political scene. A year later, the Islamist movement decided to take up arms to capture all power in the Gaza Strip. Clashes with Fatah have been extremely violent. The break is consumed. Since then, it is a more discreet but equally cruel confrontation between the two enemy brothers.
Fatah, via the Palestinian Authority, remains on board in the West Bank. Hamas holds the reins of the Gaza Strip. "Two territories, two different authorities, but one way to govern," according to a report by Human Rights Watch, published in late 2018. The NGO denounces the impossibility of expressing any opinion or opposition. Arbitrary arrests, intimidation and even acts of torture are commonplace, both in Gaza and in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority, supported by almost the entire international community, is also discreetly muffling all discordant voices. Human Rights Watch (HRW) regional director Omar Shakir says it is more difficult to be a member of Hamas in the West Bank - being chased by both Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority - as a supporter of the West Bank. Fatah in the Gaza Strip.
Suspended at a door, hands tied
In the West Bank, we met Osama al-Nabrisi, who spent twelve years in an Israeli prison for participating in attacks on a colony. When in detention, Palestinians must choose their neighborhood: Hamas or Fatah. Osama had chosen the first. But since his release and his return to his home in the West Bank, it is the Palestinian Authority that is chasing him ... About thirty arrests, more or less long, and torture sessions like the one where he was suspended on a door, hands tied behind the back.
In Gaza, it is the journalist Fouad Jarada who receives us at his home and in the drafting of Palestine TV, the official television of the Palestinian Authority. Last year, during his fifth arrest by Hamas, he spent a whole month blindfolded and spent a total of 70 days behind bars. Like Osama, his political affiliation is his only crime.
Hamas assures that during the reign of Fatah, the West Bank has become a dictatorship. Bassem Naim, Hamas's external relations officer, believes that living there is a "nightmare" for any member or supporter of the Islamist movement. Fatah officials return the compliment. Atef Abu Saif, the former Fatah spokesman in the Gaza Strip, was again severely attacked earlier this year. Exfiltrated from the enclave urgently for treatment in a hospital in the West Bank, he agreed to answer our questions ... but never finally came to the meeting. The subject is too sensitive. Especially since the man has since become Minister of Culture of the Palestinian Authority.
While HRW denounces the establishment of "parallel police states" in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Palestinians are the first victims of this fratricidal war. A power struggle that could well benefit their common enemy, Israel, while the international community, it remains silent on the subject.