Holy Moles: This morning, Hamas issued a text message to the effect that one of its operatives, a man called Hamed al-Rehel, was killed in a "holy mission" near the Israeli border. Turns out they meant the tunnel he was digging in northern Gaza, more or less in the vicinity of the Erez Crossing, caved in on him. Hamas said two other tunnel diggers were hurt; this afternoon it's reported that one of the two injured has also gone to his 72 virgins.
Gaza Bombing Last Night: Around sunset on Tuesday, four people were killed when something exploded near the Hamas marine police headquarters in Gaza City. One version says it was a car that blew up, while another version, quoting Hamas, speaks of a missile attack by an Israeli naval vessel. First reports said the dead men were the property of Hamas. Names were eventually named, and two of the 'martyrs', Youssef Hammada and Hodeibi Khader, both around 20, turn out to have been registered in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, i.e. following Abbas's orders. Eventually it transpired the dead were from Fatah, the killers were from Hamas, and the Israelis weren't involved at all; simply yet another round of brother-slashes-brother, Gaza style. A few observations:
- Like us, you might not have realized Hamas has a marine police. Turns out it was announced back in August. It claims to be engaged in preventing drug smuggling and providing protection for swimmers and fishermen. But since it evidently has no ships or boats, their daily work is almost certainly just another expression of Hamas' endless preoccupation with acts of terrorism against Jewish Israelis and against Pal-Arabs who don't buy into radical jihadism.
- This Israeli source, providing background we're unlikely to see elsewhere, says some 20 or more relatives of the three dead Fatah men were arrested by Hamas security forces near Gaza City early this morning. Ahab Ghussen, speaking for the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, is quoted gravely announcing that "We are not going to allow anyone to gamble and play with the security of our people." A very serious man indeed.
Back-channels: Just to be sure not too many people start thinking that Abbas turning up in Olmert's sukkah actually means something, it's reported today from London that Fatah and Hamas have agreed in principle to launch a secret dialogue in Cairo. The source is the UK-based Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat quoting the head of Egyptian Intelligence, Omar Suleiman. This helps us see how incredibly moderate Abbas really is. Gets along with simply everyone.