In order to go beyond the obvious and attempt to understand the forces driving the violence , we interviewed Professor Yoel Strickman, from the Middle East Satire Research Institute (MESRI):
ISL: Glad to have you with us Professor. Let's start perhaps with an update from Gaza – what's going on there now?
Prof. Strickman: We just received a report that five more Fatah operatives were beheaded after being tortured. Their bodies are being mutilated as we speak.
ISL: Wow. How do you explain such inhumanity?
Prof. Strickman: I think it happened because they got caught. Not all Fatah operatives have managed to escape from Gaza.
ISL: Obviously. But why would anyone do such a thing? Where does the hatred come from?
Prof. Strickman: Well, it is well known that Fatah and Hamas are bitter ideological enemies. They will fight for their beliefs to the death, their own death or others.
ISL: What are these beliefs?
Prof. Strickman: Fatah was formed in the Sixties order to destroy the state of Israel and replace it with a Palestinian State.
ISL: OK. What about Hamas?
Prof. Strickman: Hamas is an Islamic movement which has vowed to destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian State.
ISL: Actually, they sound quite similar.
Prof. Strickman: It is true that the layman may have some difficulty in discerning the differences between the two movements, but believe me – there are many.
ISL: Such as?
Prof. Strickman: For starters, Fatah is willing to talk to Israelis before killing them. This is something that the radical Hamas cannot accept. Hamas wishes to kill Jews without talking to them beforehand. It's a completely different philosophy of destroying Israel.
ISL: I see. But can that cause so much passion? Enough to hunt down and murder each other?
Prof. Strickman: Of course not . There is more, much more. For instance, Fatah is willing to accept weapons from Israel in order to later use them to kill Israelis. Hamas refuses to do so, and it will only kill Israelis with weapons that it has bought or stolen by itself.
ISL: Hamas seem to be quite a prideful lot.
Prof. Strickman: They are fiercely independent. Like Fatah they want to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews but they insist on doing it their own way.
ISL: As does Fatah.
Prof. Strickman: Fatah isn't so dogmatic. For instance they are in no hurry to destroy Israel. They seem to be taking their own good time, while Hamas can't wait to get their hands on those Jews.
ISL: Fatah have certainly done their share of killing Israelis.
Prof. Strickman: Of course. But they're not passionate about it like the Hamas. Fatah will kill a few Jews and then return to the negotiating table, accept more money, weapons and some territory and then kill some more Jews. For Hamas the resulting delay is extremely irritating.
ISL: But basically they both want the exact same thing, so why can't they cooperate?
Prof. Strickman: It's too late for that. Hamas are convinced that Fatah isn't committed to the destruction of Israel. On the other hand, Fatah feels that Hamas just wants to kill Jews for its own pleasure, without having to bear the responsibility of lying to the Israelis and the international media about their real intentions.
ISL: So it's a matter of trust – there just isn't any trust here.
Prof. Strickman: Correct. Trust has been lost, and there's nothing they can do about it now.
ISL: Except kill each other.
Prof. Strickman: Of course. These days, Arab-Islamic culture has no appreciation for the nuances of negotiation and conflict resolution. Killing is much more decisive and also fun.
Prof. Strickman: Well, they must be enjoying it, or else why would they keep doing it over and over again?
ISL: Maybe it's just force of habit? Maybe they can't stop, even if they wanted to?
Prof. Strickman: Are you saying that I'm wrong?
ISL: Well, I just thought…
Prof. Strickman: Because if you are, I'll have to kill you.
ISL: What? What the…
Prof. Strickman: Just kidding. But it does get to you, all this killing. I mean, maybe they do have something over there? Why talk and argue and squabble endlessly over every trivial, minute, idiotic detail? Who cares really? Why argue each other into the ground when we can kill each other this very instant? Why, right now I could smash your head in with this cane. I could gouge your eyes out with my pencil, and then I would rip...
ISL: Yes, well thank you very much Professor, I think you've been watching too much Palestinian television. I must be going now, we have um, er…to go …now. Bye.
Inspired by Melanie Phillips at the French hill blog