WHAT A MESS. A front-pager (at least online) at The New York Times details the predictable decline of medical services in the Gaza Strip under the economically sanctioned Hamas-led Palestinian government, and outlines the increasingly dire predictions of the World Health Organization for the long-term health of the Palestinian medical infrastructure. Meanwhile, gun-battles between rival armed factions fighting for the control of the (unpaid since March) Palestinian security forces have left three dead:

Hamas claimed Fatah had shot one of its members, who later died in a hospital. Hamas then shot two Fatah members in the street. Assault rifles, submachine guns and even an anti-tank missile usually reserved for fighting against Israel were fired in the streets of the Abassan farming community.

Problems getting medical supplies into Gaza through the Karni crossing have multiplied, partly in response to attacks on Karni (including a recent one believed to have been directed by Hamas officials) that have repeatedly led Israelis to shut down the major trade route into Gaza for security reasons. One-time plans for a Gaza seaport that would have allowed for more independent and direct international trade now seem fantastical. Indeed, the Palestinian Authority government is so broke that prisoners and security forces "have not had any food for two days," according to a story this morning in the Israeli press, leading the PA to call for family members to bring prisoners food, and to consider releasing prisoners wholesale.

All of this is very sad and should have been completely predictable to voters who chose Hamas and who, in an effort to vote against government corruption, poverty, and lack of services have brought about a situation they will find even worse economically, and with no more law or order. When people who have been rendered dependent are cast onto themselves in the midst of an era of religious fundamentalism, nothing good can come of it. And yet, there it is. Israel is planning a disengagement from the Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, as it already has from Gaza, and the world has adopted a policy of global disengagement (sanctions), so long as the terrorist-led elected Hamas government remains defiant and obdurate. Everyone is playing the only role they think they can play and every day the existence of two separate states seems more and more a reality. What Palestinian voters couldn't possibly have expected, because no one ever really expects such things, is that, should their leaders continue to stand fast against the world, the state they will be getting will more closely resemble Haiti than Israel.

--Garance Franke-Ruta

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