It is all so bloody and so bloody predictable. The Mecca deal for a Palestinian unity government is breaking down as Hamas and Fatah's militant factions clash on the streets of Gaza, and simultaneously turn their fire on Israel.
Over 40 Palestinian have already been killed in the internal clashes, and the southern Israeli town of Sderot faces a barrage of Qassam rocket fire with injuries so far, but no casualties. Israel has responded with air-strikes against Hamas militants and is threatening to further ratchet-up that reaction.
Those bored already by another tale of Middle East tribalism have lost sight of the implications this clash could have in an already dangerously destabilized region.
American credibility will be further tarnished, the Arab states will feel even more threatened and unwilling to do heavy lifting in Iraq, and the overall regional atmosphere will lurch again in the direction of violent radicalism.
Obviously, this is a moment of truth for the Palestinians, but Israel and the U.S. are hardly disinterested bystanders.
Hamas and Fatah have real political differences, and the Mecca unity deal is a fragile one. Gaza is awash with poor, young, unemployed males, and guns. Add to that already combustible mix an international economic embargo and an Israeli, American, and Arab involvement that sides with one faction and provides them with weapons, and you have the recipe for the disaster we are witnessing today.
Rather than easing the economic situation, providing a political horizon, and encouraging the fragile post-Mecca ceasefire, the external actors have been promoting a civil war, with the encouragement of certain elements within Fatah.
For some in Hamas such a scenario provides a convenient excuse for not continuing the difficult path away from violence and into politics, and avoids having to maintain the delicate balancing act of keeping the militants onboard.
Palestinians will have to find their own formula for stepping back from the brink, but Israelis and Americans should be asking themselves some tough questions, too; and a good place to start might be a glance to the Horn of Africa, and to the disaster that is Somalia.
Will Israeli security be improved by having a Mogadishu on its doorstep? And does such an outcome serve American interests?
A Gazan collapse into chaos and total ungovernability will create a security nightmare for Israel and other surrounding states, and, of course, a humanitarian disaster for the Palestinians themselves.
Fatah cannot win this civil war, forget it. The alternatives on offer are a serious effort to make the Unity Government work, or Mogadishu. The Somali capital is now in its second decade of irretrievable chaos and collapse. The toothpaste is not fully out of the tube in Gaza, but it is preciously close. Does Israel want to play the role of Ethiopia in Gaza, re-crowning Fatah leaders atop IDF tanks?
Already America is arming certain Fatah factions, and Israeli Vice-Premier Shimon Peres is suggesting that Israel would positively respond to a Fatah call for assistance. Nothing could be more shortsighted. If Hamas is kicked out of the government, the alternative is unlikely to be effective Fatah rule and tame Hamas quiescence, but rather the emergence of an al Qaeda foothold inside the Palestinian territories.
Israel and her international allies have to swallow hard and recognize that the route to possible enhanced security and a renewed peace process runs via a Palestinian unity government and the ongoing incorporation of the political Islamists into the governing equation.
That does not mean that the U.S. and Israel need to directly engage with Hamas immediately, or finance them - the Hamas leadership is probably not ready for that either.
But Europeans and others should be encouraged to engage; and their money, together with promised Arab donations, and Palestinian tax money being withheld by Israel should all flow back to the PA.
If and when the fighting cools down, a serious effort must be made to get a unity government to work. The policy of regime change in Palestine, as elsewhere, has failed.
This is urgent. As Gaza sneezes, Israel and the region are in danger of catching a very nasty cold.