The attack is a blow to Tel Aviv's claim that the separation barrier that used up chunks of
Palestinian territories was built "to protect Israelis from Palestinian attacks" [GALLO/GETTY]


Moral judgments not withstanding, the suicide bombing in Dimona on Monday is another chink in the siege imposed on all Palestinians in the occupied territories and it represents a continuity of the Palestinian rebellion that breached the wall between Gaza and Egypt last week.
 
The fact that the two Hamas fighters crossed from Hebron, in the West Bank, and reached Dimona in the south is a blow to Israeli government claims that the separation barrier that gobbled chunks of Palestinian territories was built "to protect Israelis from Palestinian attacks".

Furthermore, initial claims of responsibility by Fatah's Al Aqsa Brigades and the Popular Front for The Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) backed by videos of two Gazans bidding farewell prior to their departure on a mission underscored solidarity with Hamas.

How events unfolded

- Hours after the Dimona bombing, Fatah's Al Aqsa Brigades and the PFLP's military wing claims responsibility and releases videos of two young men declaring they were undertaking "a martyrdom mission"

- The next day, the bodies of the bombers in Dimona are identified - and are not the men who appeared in the videos

- Hamas then declares sole responsibility for the attacks

- It emerges that all three organisations had dispatched suicide bombers into Israel. The PFLP and Al Aqsa Brigades sent two men out of Gaza into Egyptian territories, with instructions to cross back into Israel. Hamas had sent two men - the ones who carried out the attacks - from Hebron

- The men who appeared on the videos released by Al Aqsa Brigades and the PFLP are assumed to have gone into hiding

Although it later it transpired that Al Aqsa Brigades and the PFLP did not carry out the Dimona attack, their initial declaration of responsibility (see 'How events unfolded') underscores that all groups are now involved in resisting the Israeli siege of Gaza.

Thus, the conflict is now emerging as an Israeli war against all Palestinians - and not "a war targeting Hamas".

Strangled by closures, military incursions and killings, it was just a matter of time before Palestinian groups would resume attacks inside Israel.
 
In spite of divisions between Fatah and Hamas, the rival movements find a commonality in that they are both targeted by the Israeli military.

Scenes broadcast around the world of a besieged Gaza, and more significantly, those of its residents breaching the wall between the strip and Egypt, stirred and inspired Palestinians across the political and geographic divide.
 
Fatah disgruntlement 

But what is most striking about the Dimona episode is that the Fatah-aligned Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are forcefully challenging Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and his policy of accommoding Israeli and US interests.

In their statement, the brigades saluted both Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian president, and present leader Abbas, but in effect the deference to the president is an implied protest against Salam Fayad, the current prime minister.
 
The episode itself is an indication of growing disgruntlement within Fatah and the increasing view that continued Israeli-Palestinian talks are futile, if not a cover for Israeli acts against Palestinians.
 
In statements issued three weeks ago, the Brigades called for Fayad's resignation, holding him responsible for disarming their members.  

The so-called Fayad security plan involved convincing the Brigades to turn in their arms and join the official security forces in order to "deprive Israel from a pretext to bomb West Bank towns".

The plan collapsed in early January, when Israeli forces launched a three-day military operation in Nablus, killing and wounding Brigades members and civilians and rounding up former Fatah fighters.

At the time, a Brigades spokesman in Gaza criticised Fayad and threatened his life.

Undermined leadership

Abbas has been criticised by fighters for
meeting Israelis during the Gaza siege
It is no secret that Fatah leaders had decided to halt suicide bombings and attacks inside Israel. But the leadership ability to enforce such directives was undermined by continued Israeli raids and the strangulating siege of Gaza.

Moreover, Fatah's Al Aqsa Brigades, do not answer to a unified command, which is a sign of internal divisions, chaos and disagreement with the political leadership.
 
According to well-informed Fatah sources, the Brigades felt impotent and dispirited by the reluctance of the Palestinian Authority to take action or even at the very least to suspend talks with Israel over the unfolding strangulation of the Gaza Strip.
 
The Brigades have felt partly deceived by Fayad, who trusted Israeli promises that their military would stop hunting them.

They have also felt that promises of concrete steps towards peace and the alleviation of Palestinian suffering had been broken. 

This has contributed to building resentment within Fatah. Supporters watched their political leaders smile alongside their Israelis counterparts in photo opportunities while the number of Palestinian casualties mounted.
 
So while Israeli and even official Palestinian statements condemned the Dimona attack and expressed concern about "peace negotiations" - supposedly revived by the Annapolis conference last December - a majority of Palestinians say they have seen no evidence yet of peace or security.

Hamas, meanwhile, has been asserting itself - even among its critics and opponents - as siding with the Gazan people, and taking part, if not outright leading the breach of the Rafah border last week.

This was an act that deeply touched the pride of the Palestinians.

Annapolis - the facade 

Many in the occupied territories now view the Annapolis meeting as an international facade, ushering in a new phase of fiercer - and with increased impunity - US-backed Israeli aggression and subjugation.
 
Israeli "incursions" and bombings in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have killed more than 141 Palestinians since the Annapolis meeting.

Israel has also been conducting an average of 20-30 weekly incursions into the West Bank, rounding up and killing members of Palestinians groups, including Fatah.
 
Given the above, it is no surprise that a member of Fatah executed the Dimona suicide bombing attack.

In addition to expressing Palestinian anger, Fatah has now partly reasserted its credentials as a resistance movement.

The attack itself could still be an isolated accident, but it is not isolated in its expression of a building Palestinian rebellion - reminiscent of the actions that led to the 1987 and 2000 uprisings.
 
The difference today is that Palestinians not only have to grapple with the separation wall but must also challenge the internal walls that divide them.

This could transform the stirrings of a popular uprising into an outburst of anger without vision and political leadership.

Source: Al Jazeera