Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hamas left all alone - Eyal Zisser



by Eyal Zisser

The year that has passed since the conclusion of the Gaza campaign has left Hamas even more isolated. Hamas has become dependent on Israel's goodwill, on its reluctance to topple the Gaza regime and the assistance it lends the residents of the Strip. Egypt, meanwhile, keeps its border with Gaza sealed.


The inception of a Hamas state in the Gaza Strip in the previous decade was first and foremost an Iranian project. The execution may have been Palestinian, but the direction, and more precisely the missiles, were Iranian.

Iran has made no secret of its desire to do in Gaza what it did in Lebanon years before, meaning to form a terrorist entity armed with thousands of long-range missiles, which it could use to threaten Israel, generate deterrence, and occasionally draw some Israeli blood. 

But unlike Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas was never solely dependent on Iran's goodwill, enjoying extensive support across the Muslim Sunni world, as well as the support of various nations, such as Turkey and Qatar. 

The Arab Spring that rattled the Arab world did not undermine Hamas' rule in Gaza, and for a time it even bolstered it. The civil war in Syria may have temporarily cut Hamas ties with Damascus, but the group quickly reinforced its ties with Turkey, and was even able to relocate its headquarters from Damascus to Istanbul. 

Another Hamas dream came true, albeit for a short time, in 2012, when Muslim Brotherhood politician Mohammed Morsi was elected as Egypt's president.

But the tables soon turned, and in 2014 Hamas found itself on a collision course with much of the Arab world, especially with Egypt, where Morsi was deposed and replaced with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The latter made no secret of his animosity toward the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, which he declared were a threat to Egypt's stability. 

It is possible that Hamas' concern that it was on the brink of calamity was the main reason why it initiated a conflict with Israel in the summer of 2014, assuming that anything it would be unable to achieve during the conflict, would remain unattainable in its wake.

During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas found itself facing Israel alone, without the Arab support it has become accustomed to in previous conflicts. Turkey and Qatar rushed to declare their support, but it was mostly lip service and therefore insignificant. 

Egypt, for its part, was very pleased with the blows Israel had dealt Hamas, and made no secret of its hope that Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip would come to an end.

The year that has passed since the conclusion of the Gaza campaign has left Hamas even more isolated. Hamas has become dependent on Israel's goodwill, on its reluctance to topple the Gaza regime and the assistance it lends the residents of the Strip. Egypt, meanwhile, keeps its border with Gaza sealed.

Hamas also has to contend with the Islamic State group, which has accused it of not being sufficiently devout. According to Islamic State, the relative calm on the Israel-Gaza border means Hamas is collaborating with Israel. 

The situation is further compounded by the fact that given the global chaos, the Palestinian question no longer takes center stage in the international theater, and the images emerging from Gaza fail to make any impression.

While Hamas has been able to rebuild much of its military capabilities and arsenal over the past year, it knows there is more to war with Israel than rocket fire. Operation Protective Edge may have left Hamas in control of the coastal enclave, but it has undermined its authority, as Gazans now see Hamas rule as the cause of the dire situation in the Strip, which has so far shown no signs of improvement. 

Hamas is isolated in the Arab sphere as well, as many Arab governments hold it responsible for many of the region's problems. 

The string of terrorist attacks Egypt has suffered this week will do little to assuage Cairo's animosity toward Hamas, even if Saudi Arabia continues with its efforts to include the Islamist group in the Sunni alliance it seeks to form against Iran.


Eyal Zisser

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=13059

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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