Beirut is caught in a vice between pro-Iranian and pro-Syrian factions over the Saudi move to pull Syria away from its support for the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah and Tehran's counter-moves. In Palestinian Gaza, debkafile's military sources report, this conflict is reflected in the strains breaking surface between the ruling Hamas, whose political secretary Khaled Meshaal is based in Damascus, and the Jihad Islami, Tehran's Palestinian arm.
Both have put their armed men on the ready for a showdown which could end in the carving-up of the densely populated, tiny (360 sq. km.) Palestinian enclave.
Our exclusive sources report that Saturday night, Aug. 7, Hamas' Ezzedine al-Qassam and Jihad's Saraya al Qods-Jerusalem Battalions ordered a general mobilization.
Except for Israeli military units stationed near the Gaza border and certain intelligence circles, this brink-of-factional war went unnoticed in Jerusalem and Israel's media, which are preoccupied with unending domestic political disputes.
debkafile's military sources, however, call the situation in the Gaza strip "explosive" thanks to the extreme steps the two feuding Palestinian factions have set in motion:
1. Their two armed forces have called up reserves, corralled them inside towns across Gaza and are holding them ready to step into flare-ups as reinforcements;
2. The two armed groups are under orders not to rest: they must stay in uniform, hold their side arms ready and keep awake.
3. Both Hamas and Jihad have broken open their weapons stores and are distributing arms around neighborhoods they regard as loyal bastions.
4. Both threaten to use against each other the missiles they have stocked up for attacking Israel;
Our sources are holding tight in the hope that outbreaks of violence building up in the Gaza Strip do not spill over the border into Israel.