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Will 'Black Friday' leave Israelis and Palestinians
alone to solve their differences?
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lack Friday," as Palestini-
ans quickly dubbed last
week's massacre of 16
demonstrators by Pales-
tinian police in Gaza, has creat-
ed a whole new ballgame in the
Palestinian community and a
new dilemma for Israel.
For the meanwhile, calm has
been restored. Through the me-
diation of Israeli Palestinians, the
warring sides in Gaza have
reached a truce, of sorts. The
Palestinian National Authority
appointed two separate commis-
sions of inquiry to determine who
bears responsibility for the blood-
shed. And the Israeli government
has opted to treat the whole mat-
ter as "an internal Palestinian af-
fair" and say as little about it as
Only history can tell whether
"Black Friday" was a turning
point in the Israeli-Arab peace
process and the history of the
ing." But looking over the Green
Line at Gaza, and the Palestin-
ian community in general, it's
clear that Israel has two press-
ing concerns that were only the-
oretical just a week ago.
The first is the frightening, but
increasingly real possibility of a
civil war in Gaza. The second is
that already finicky donor states
will have even more qualms
about their decision to invest $2.4
billion in Palestinian self-rule and
will renege on their commit-
Notwithstanding the "cease-
fire" agreement between the PNA
and the Palestinian opposition,
it's difficult to believe that calm
will prevail for long in Gaza.
When Palestinian police fired on
the crowd pouring out of the cen-
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tral mosque last Friday, it opened
an "account of blood," as Israeli
journalist Danny Rubenstein
wrote ominously this week, that
will not soon be settled.
Even before the first shots
were fired by Palestinians at
Palestinians, Islamic Jihad sup-
porters accused PLO Chairman
Yassir Arafat of being a "Zionist
lackey" and openly taunting him
with the chant: "Arafat, Arafat,
the Jihad wiped out Sadat." Now
that blood has been shed, it's hard
to imagine that the agreement
between the two camps will as-
suage feelings at the street level.
And with Gaza awash with arms,
it would not take much for mat-
ters to spin out of control.
The standing of the Palestin-
ian police is also a matter of grave
concern on both sides of the
Green Line. Until recently, the
police force was a source of pride
among Palestinians. Surveys
showed that in the first months
of the new administration, the
man in the street gave it high
marks for its performance and
With Gaza awash
with arms, it may not
take much for
matters to spin out of
professed a greater sense of se-
curity because Palestinian po-
licemen were on the job.
All that changed radically.
From the moment the police shot
into the crowd, the sense of trust
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Islamic Jihad followers burn an Israeli flag in Gaza City.