Hamas’s failure to enforce the latest Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with Israel
is seen by Palestinians as a sign that the Islamist movement may be losing
control over the Gaza Strip.
In the past, Hamas has shown that its
security forces are capable of implementing cease-fires with
Hamas, whose leaders maintain that they are not interested in
providing Israel with an excuse to launch another major military offensive in
Gaza, had even gone as far as detaining members of other groups who insisted on
launching rockets at Israel.
But in recent months Hamas did not need to
resort to force to stop members of Islamic Jihad and other armed groups from
attacking Israel. Instead, Hamas leaders managed to reach agreement with the
other organizations about the need to “preserve the state of calm with
Now, however, Hamas appears to have lost control over the
various armed groups operating inside the Gaza Strip. Although Hamas has
expressed readiness to honor the latest cease-fire, it has been unable to
persuade other organizations to follow suit.
Internal disputes and loss
of Syrian and Iranian support, on the other hand, have had a negative impact on
Some Palestinians in Gaza also said that Hamas is
not trying hard to enforce the cease-fire out of fear of facing accusations of
preventing “resistance” attacks against Israel. Hamas leaders cannot afford to
be branded as traitors at a time when Islamists are growing stronger in a number
of Arab countries, especially in Egypt.
Another reason Hamas seems to be
losing control, Palestinians say, lies in the fact that Muslim terrorists from
Arab countries are operating inside the Gaza Strip.
These men, some of
whom are affiliated with al-Qaida, are said to be behind the recent terror
attacks from Gaza and along the Israel- Egypt border.
It’s also possible
that the ruling military council in Egypt, which is not particularly supportive
of Hamas, would like to see the Islamist movement weakened, if not removed from
power. Hamas despises the generals who are in control in Egypt and sees them as
puppets of the former hostile regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Mohamed Tantawi, the de facto ruler of Egypt, and his military council are also
aware that Hamas poses a threat to their country’s national security and
interests. Recent reports in the official Egyptian media have held Hamas and
other radical Islamist groups responsible for turning Sinai into a center for
Even if Hamas manages this time to enforce its will on the terror
groups in the Gaza Strip, it has become evident that the movement will no longer
be able to boast that it is in full control.
Hamas has been avoiding
elections because it is pessimistic about the outcome, Palestinian Authority
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in an interview with The Washington Post
“It is a well-known fact borne out by various opinion
polls that there has been a steady erosion in Hamas’s standing, both in the West
Bank and Gaza,” Fayyad said.
“I believe that is why they have been
Fayyad said that it was unacceptable that elections
have not been held recently in the PA, calling a vote “overdue” and saying that
it is “something I believe is going to happen, and I hope sooner rather than