The year 2006 was one of the most dramatic in the
internal Palestinian arena in recent history. Amid a rash of political
and economic transformations of most aspects of Palestinian life, the
United States wielded the most control.
It led the European Union and Israeli blockade on the Palestinian
people and government after the upset in January's Legislative Council
elections that brought the Hamas party into power.
In addition to the occupation, Israel waged major
attacks on the Gaza Strip and on Lebanon, leading to massive
destruction and mass killings at the same time that the internal
Palestinian dispute between the presidency and the government was
One of the year's most powerful images was that of the
Lebanese people destroying the myth of the invincibility of Israeli
forces. The Palestinians followed Hezbollah's example and kept an
invading Israeli soldier to use for a prisoner exchange.
On 25 January Hamas entered the political arena for
the first time and were democratically elected over the Fateh party who
had controlled Palestinian politics for 10 years. At the same time,
internal security issues were budding.
In February Ismail Haniya took the reigns as Prime
Minister and began organizing the government after initial attempts at
a national unity government failed. Hamas was in charge and in turn,
charges of corruption were levied against past government officials.
Many began to be investigated and some were arrested by Palestinian
In March Prime Minister Haniya led the first meeting
of the Legislative Council after some back and forth with the President
regarding Hamas' political program. Fateh and Hamas began seriously
butting heads as Hamas attempted to recall some of the laws quickly
adopted by the previous Fateh government before it lost control. At the
same time, Israeli forces were continuing their occupation practices
and conducted a dramatic invasion of the eastern West Bank's Jericho,
stormed the government buildings and jail, and took Popular Front for
the Liberation of Palestine Secretary General Ahmed Sa'adat from
Palestinian jail to Israeli prison.
The month of April witnessed an increase in Israeli
military and political attacks, with major killings including gunning
down an entire family picnicking on the beach in northern Gaza, leaving
only one girl behind. Saraya Al Quds, the armed resistance wing of
Islamic Jihad, responded with an explosion in Tel Aviv that killed nine
Israelis. The United States escalated its threats of imposing a major
blockade as it disapproved of the government's actions in the
Palestinian Legislative Council.
In May Fateh and Hamas physically fought in the Gaza
Strip, with several people being killed. The President and Prime
Minister quickly intervened after the Ministry of Interior's new
Executive Forces caused friction between the two parties.
June began with internal disagreements and escalated
protests from the Fateh movement against the Palestinian government,
while the presidency issued a referendum. This was also the month when
on 25 June members of the armed Palestinian resistance captured an
Israeli soldier who was invading the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli
forces began a major attack on the Gaza Strip, which it coined “Summer
Rain.” Hundreds of people were killed, injured or arrested, including
many elected Hamas officials in the West Bank who were members of the
In July the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip
intensified. Aerial attacks on homes became a daily occurrence and more
people were killed. At the same time, Hezbollah stood up to Israeli
forces who publicly demanded a return of two captured soldiers.
Although this was not the real reason for launching a war, it was the
stated one at the time. Israeli forces were pummeling the Gaza Strip
and declared war on Lebanon which resulted in several massive killings,
including in Qana, and major destruction.
In August the Israeli war against Lebanon came to an
end with Hezbollah the perceived victor, thus destroying the myth
regionally that Israeli forces were unstoppable. But to prove
themselves, the Israelis took it out on the Palestinians by attacking
the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City for days and killing 19
Palestinians. At the same time the internal security situation was
worsening with the kidnapping of two journalists.
In September three wings of the armed resistance
produced new weapons and joined forces against the Israelis, while the
internal security situation worsened and spread to the West Bank.
Strikes began in several areas of the public sector, including
teachers, and not only the economy was at a standstill, daily life was
In October major negotiations were underway, with
several Arab governments and particularly Egypt doing overtime to help
bring the internal Palestinian crisis to a resolve.
In November Israeli forces conducted another major
attack on the Gaza Strip leading to the death of at least 70
Palestinians while later Palestinians began to fight back by using
nonviolent resistance. Thousands of Palestinians stood atop houses on
the verge of aerial bombardment to prevent the Israeli warplanes from
dropping their missiles. Unity government talks were bumpy but ended on
an upbeat note, giving renewed hope that the blockade would soon be
In December one of the most prominent obstacles to
unity government formation was the Israeli onslaught, including an
increase in targeted assassinations. President Abbas and Fateh
announced the closure of the dialogue with Prime Minister Haniya and
Hamas, and the two parties battled in the streets of the Gaza Strip,
resulting in more deaths and injuries. Israeli forces increased their
arrest campaign, targeted assassinations, Wall and settlement
expansion, and land confiscation.