REPORTER: Sophie McNeill
A few months ago these Hamas security forces were battling it out on the streets with their rivals from Fatah.
OFFICER, (Translation): Where are your ID and license?
Today, they're patrolling traffic.
MAN (Translation): My ID is damaged and someone's fixing it.
Until recently the streets of Gaza were among the most lawless in the world. But the Islamist Hamas, listed as a terrorist organisation in the United States and Australia, is keen to show the world it's capable of maintaining law and order.
OFFICER, (Translation): I'm on my way to the mission.
Today I've been invited out on patrol with Gaza's new 'guardians' of security.
OFFICER, (Translation): Keep it down, she's recording everything.
They're not used to being filmed, so they're a little jumpy.
OFFICER, (Translation): We're bringing in someone. He's accused of stealing.
OFFICER, (Translation): You'll find out what it's about and sort it out.
The police take suspected thief Mansour back to the station for questioning.
OFFICER, (Translation): He's taken money from some people and won't pay them back, and they're poor people. By doing that he's not being fair to them, so to get some justice they came to us.
MANSOUR (Translation): Please, please, please don't jail me. I'm engaged and my wedding is on September 10. I’ve set the wedding date for September 10. After that jail me for 10 years instead of 1.
Although Hamas won parliamentary elections last year, all the police stations in Gaza remained under the control of Fatah-aligned forces. They were well known for their arrest and torture of Hamas supporters.
OFFICER, (Translation): The people of the mosques didn't dare to go near the security areas. Everyone who had a beard would be shot. Everyone they suspected was an Islamist would be jailed, executed or taken to be tortured.
This is how Hamas imposed law and order on Gaza in June. After months of interfactional fighting and summary executions by both parties, Hamas forces overran all the official security outposts. Fatah's troops and their commanders fled from Gaza. Now there are two, rival Palestinian governments. A new emergency Fatah government, appointed by the Palestinian President, sits in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Meanwhile in Gaza, sacked Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh continues to hold his own Hamas cabinet meetings. The fact that Gaza is ruled entirely by Hamas is a nightmare for Israel. In response to continued Palestinian rocket attacks, Israel mounts almost daily incursions. My translator and driver, Raed al-Atamna, has just told me several people have been killed in two separate Israeli attacks.
RAED AL-ATAMNA, (Translation): You have a lot of wounded here.
Inside the operating theatre a young man lies dying, his legs blown away.
MAN, (Translation): He went with the resistance fighting the occupation and was hit by a rocket.
More victims of the Israeli attack are brought to the hospital. Nine people in total have been killed.
REPORTER: So, Raed, how often do you see something like this is Gaza?
RAED AL-ATAMNA: This is normal in Gaza. Every week is coming, every week this life. This is the life in Gaza. This is the life in Gaza!
Raed has also experienced terrible loss as a result of this conflict. 17 members of his family were killed in an Israeli rocket attack last November. Aside from military attacks, Gaza is being slowly strangled by an economic blockade and closed borders. And these young patients in the children's hospital are feeling the pain.
DR SHEIK HALIL: This is the patient, Jihan, her name is Jihan. She is in the third class of the school, and she has leukaemia. Most of the medications used for the tumours and for leukaemia, they are not available.
Dr Sheik Halil says he hasn't had the heart to tell this little girl's mother her daughter has leukaemia and that he has no drugs to treat her. And Gaza's closed borders don't just prevent medicine getting in but also patients getting out. 9-year-old Rana can't receive the treatment she needs for her tumour.
DR SHEIK HALIL: She has abdominal tumour and was increasing day by day. And she was referred to Egypt before, Egypt hospitals, when the borders were open, that time. She has diagnosis and now she is here for the treatment. And of course she cannot go back to Egypt to continue her medications and to continue the follow-up in Egypt. This is the paediatric intensive care unit.
For the three days before my visit to the hospital, Gaza has been without electricity. The European Union is worried Hamas will misuse money intended to buy fuel for Gaza's power station, so it's cut the funding. The hospital has its own generator but fuel supplies here are running dangerously low.
What could happen if the electricity cuts out what could happen?
DR SHEIK HALIL: If cut out, of course the machine will not work so as the patient is depending on the machine completely, the patient will definitely die.
Because of the power cuts, Raed and his seven children often spend their evenings in darkness.
RAED AL-ATAMNA: All of them be scared when it be dark. It's very bad for him, you know. Crying “Mum! Mum!” all the night, all of them.
From Raed's house you can see the bright lights of Israel just a few kilometres away.
RAED AL-ATAMNA: You have electricity there and you can see with your eyes there is electricity on the Israel side and here don't have electricity.
While the children of Gaza are doing it tough, the lights are on in the West Bank, and foreigners are handing out presents. In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, American aid money is being used to buy backpacks for these children, and refurbish their school.
US AID WORKER: On behalf of the American people I am just privileged and honoured to be your partners.
The US is anxious to show Palestinians they'll be rewarded for turning away from Hamas, and supporting Fatah.
US AID WORKER: Our job is to really use this window of opportunity to demonstrate that peace will bring clear rewards to all Palestinians.
REPORTER: What does it say to people in the Middle East when you say, “OK, have free and fair elections but at the end of the day “we are only going to recognise or approve of the ones we like,” you know, “You can't elect anyone you want, you have to elect the ones we want to work with.”
MICAELA SCHWEITER-BLUHM, US CONSULATE SPOKESPERSON: Well, we're not saying “We want you to elect who we like.” It was a case of saying, “You have elected a government. We accept that. We accept that you've elected these people.” We have never made any secret of the fact that we are unable to interact with Hamas. They could have recognised previous international agreements, they could have denounced violence. They could have done a number of things, and they chose not to be responsible leaders.
But Fatah's critics accuse it of irresponsible leadership. With US backing, Fatah now seems intent on crushing Hamas support in the West Bank.
REPORTER: Mohammed, how did that happen?
MOHAMMED, (Translation): This is because of the handcuffs. My hands were cuffed behind my back and I was hoisted by the handcuffs.
There's evidence that Fatah security forces in the West Bank have been rounding up and torturing Hamas supporters like Mohammed, not his real name.
MOHAMMED, (Translation): Also, they made them very tight so both my hands were injured. This went on for three consecutive days.
Four days before I met him, the Palestinian Authority closed down the Islamic charity where Mohammed worked. He says he was then arrested and accused of working for Hamas.
MOHAMMED, (Translation): It's obvious that in the West Bank there are severe restrictions on political activities, particularly in relation to Hamas.
Back in Gaza, a senior Hamas official is taking me on a tour of the closed border with Egypt, now controlled by Hamas security forces. Ahmed Yousef is an adviser to sacked Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. While most people believe Hamas has staged a violent coup in Gaza, Yousef claims Fatah was to blame.
AHMED YOUSEF: They have the plan to start challenging Hamas…
He says Hamas was simply responding to an attempted takeover by Fatah, led by its security chief in Gaza.
AHMED YOUSEF: So to us he was like the number one enemy for Hamas because he was preparing for that coup with the help and support and money from the American Government.
This may sound like a Hamas conspiracy theory, but Yousef's version of events is supported by no less than the former head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.
EFRAIM HALEVY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF MOSSAD: This was an effort to mount a kind of a coup against the elections.
Halevy agrees that the US worked with Fatah to try and overthrow the Islamists.
EFRAIM HALEVY: After the election was won, the United States decided the results were not to its liking, Israel thought it was not to its liking, the Fatah thought it was not to its liking, and therefore all three together with the Europeans in the end decided it was legitimate, it was proper to take steps to undo the results of the election.
Remarkably, Halevy is opposed to the policy of isolating Hamas and thinks it will harm Israel's security. He also believes the US provided military support to Fatah.
EFRAIM HALEVY It was an effort by the United States to enable Fatah to put together a force in Gaza. This was a force which was destined to confront the Hamas capability in Gaza and to overcome it. I think there was an enormous effort put into this, training equipment, know-how, logistics, equipment of various kinds.
But if so, the plan backfired. Much of this equipment has now ended up in the hands of Hamas's Executive Force, and today it's putting on a show for the media. These US-supplied cars were stolen when Hamas overran Fatah's security force headquarters in June. And these new guns were also seized. There are allegations that these too were paid for by Washington.
HANI AL-HASSAN, FORMER FATAH SECURITY ADVISOR: Surely they ordered Israel to let the guns go in, they supplied, they paid the price of the guns.
Former Fatah security advisor Hani al-Hassan was privy to the plan. He says America supplied weapons to Fatah and Israel facilitated their transfer.
REPORTER: And where did the guns come from?
HANI AL-HASSAN: Some from Egypt. Some from Jordan.
REPORTER: Because the Americans now they say they didn't pay for any weapons?
HANI AL- HASSAN: That's not true.
Since going public with these allegations Hassan's house has been attacked and he's been sacked him from his position as presidential advisor.
REPORTER: By building up one apparatus of Palestinian security in Gaza that's well known as a Fatah movement, didn't the United States help provoke the violent confrontation that we've just seen in Gaza?
MICAELA SCHWEITER-BLUHM: I would not agree. To clarify, we were working with legitimate security forces under the authority of President Abbas. What happened in Gaza was a terrible thing, it was a breakdown in security and the rule of law. We feel where much for the citizens of Gaza, for their situation.
But even former UN envoy Alvaro de Soto didn't trust America's intentions. In this leaked copy of his final report in May, before the Hamas takeover, he wrote,
ALVARO DE SOTO REPORT: “The US envoy declared twice in an envoys' meeting in Washington how much 'I like this violence,' referring to the near civil war that was erupting in Gaza in which civilians were being regularly killed and injured, because 'it means that other Palestinians are resisting Hamas.'”
SAEB EREKAT, SENIOR FATAH MEMBER: When Hamas won the election, nobody said 'No' to that.
Senior Fatah member Saeb Erekat denies his party tried to undermine the election results.
SAEB EREKAT: We have nothing against Hamas as a political party. We have everything against Hamas being an authority parallel to our authorities, and against this coup d'etat, against taking the law into their own hands.
But in Gaza Hamas supporters blame Fatah for their misery. Today they've come to the closed Rafah border crossing for a demonstration. But these protesters don't just blame Israel for the blockade on Gaza, they also blame Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas, known as Abu Mazen.
MAN, (Translation): He's pressuring the government and the Palestinians to make them regret voting for Hamas and supporting it in Gaza. Abu Mazen is giving us more trouble than Israel is. It's Abu Mazen and the cabinet who stopped fuel entering Gaza.
In fact, when Indonesia and Qatar recently tried to condemn the closures in the UN Security Council, their resolution was withdrawn, incredibly, because of objections from the Palestinian envoy, a Fatah appointment.
SAEB EREKAT: I feel very sorry for their misery, it's a very, very miserable situation.
REPORTER: So why did he defeat this motion? Why did he work to defeat this motion?
SAEB EREKAT: We wanted to have a balanced resolution, we wanted them to add the paragraph calling on the people to rescind and revoke all the consequences of the coup d'etat, and that's our right.
Last week the Fatah government explicitly condemned the border closures in Gaza. But each side continues to blame and provoke the other. It's Friday and these Fatah supporters are gathering to pray in protest against the Hamas takeover of Gaza. The event soon turns into a large anti-Hamas demonstration.
CROWD: Abu Mazen! Abu Mazen!
Hamas quickly sends its armed security force to break up the demonstrators.
HAMAS MAN, (Translation): Enough! You've filmed enough!
Later that day, while they thought journalists weren't looking, Hamas proceeded to beat and arrest a large number of Fatah supporters. This was captured by a TV camera on a nearby rooftop. One week later, Hamas has declared it illegal to hold prayers outdoors. So on this Friday morning the streets are quiet as people wait to see if Fatah will dare disobey the order. Hamas is clearly preparing for a fight.
REPORTER: Last week we saw lots of protesters beaten by the police. Is that going to happen again today? I mean, do you approve of what they did last week?
POLICE CHIEF: Let me ask to you, if this happened in your country, what will the police do?
REPORTER: You're not allowed to beat unarmed people in my country.
POLICE CHIEF: No, in any country it's allowed for people to spoil security?
MAN, (Translation): The mosque is there. Go and pray there.
As Fatah supporters begin to arrive, the police block anybody from entering the square.
OFFICER, (Translation): You didn't come here to pray. If you want to pray, go to the mosque.
MAN, (Translation): Don't hit me! Why are you doing that?
OFFICER, (Translation): Move on, go and pray.
Anyone who wants to argue is quickly shoved into waiting car and driven away.
MAN, (Translation): They took him for speaking to a journalist! Can't talk to journalists, can't pray in the street.
OFFICER, (Translation): Don't say anything! Be quiet. Stop talking. I told you, don't speak! Stop talking! That's it! Enough! Get going!
LOCAL CAMERAMAN, (Translation): I said I was a journalist and showed them my card but four soldiers kept beating me, all because I was filming them assaulting people. One civilian and three from the Executive Force attacked me.
According to Israel's former spy boss, Gaza's cycle of violence and recrimination isn't doing anybody any good, be it Israel, the United States or the Palestinians.
EFRAIM HALEVY: I believe that ultimately you have to talk to your enemy, you have to confront your enemy. Somewhere along the line there has to be a policy of how to deal with Gaza. If someone believes that ultimately Fatah will just walk into Gaza and just take over the remnants and receive the surrender of the Hamas, I think that he who thinks so is living in a world of fantasy.
And as Palestinians fight amongst themselves, long-suffering Gaza locals like Raed al-Atamna look on and despair.
RAED AL-ATAMNA, (Translation): It's natural for me to feel tired and angry when I see the fighting between Hamas and Fatah. Also, it's possible I want neither Hamas nor Fatah because of such behaviour. I'm angry with both. They can't be Palestinian. The word 'Palestinian' should unite us.
RAED AL ATAMNA (Gaza)
NIDAL RAFA (West Bank)