IDF soldier sits atop a tank just outside northern Gaza 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
Egypt and Iran are locked in a power struggle over their influence and
conflicting aims in the Gaza Strip, and Egypt appears to have the upper
While Tehran is dissatisfied with the relative durability of the
cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, and is pushing Palestinian armed factions
to violate the truce, Cairo is doing its utmost to reinforce the calm, which it
views as serving Egypt’s national interest.
Egypt is actively
neutralizing attempts by Iran to send representatives and arms to
Meanwhile, Qatar has invested massively in the Gaza Strip, donating
$452 million for construction works. The Gulf state’s investment is having a
moderating yet growing influence on Gaza as it helps the Hamas regime
consolidate its sovereignty and economy.
As a result, tensions between
Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Egypt, Qatar and Turkey – which is also seeking an
influence in the Strip – are on the rise.
It’s safe to assume that Hamas
will do everything it can to maintain the truce, so that it can continue its
efforts to deepen its foundations as the rulers of an Islamist enclave, wedged
between Egypt and Israel.
Hamas is enjoying its new-found legitimacy in
the Arab world and would like to avoid an Israeli air campaign or ground
offensive. Its efforts are not always successful, but they are
Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, is disciplined and obeying
the cease-fire orders.
Proof can be found in the lack of response to
Israel’s targeted air strike this week on a Salafi-jihadi weapons manufacturer
who was linked to a rocket attack on Eilat from Sinai last month.
is seeking economic independence in Gaza, while dealing with acute energy and
water crises and inflation in the housing market.
Gaza now buys all of
its fuel from Egypt – some 30 million liters a month. Its sole power plant has
priority as a recipient of the fuel, a product of Hamas’s efforts to reduce cuts
in the electricity supply.
Qatar donated 30 million liters of fuel to
Gaza last year.
But complications in its delivery from Egypt means that
only 10 million liters have arrived in Gaza.
The regime is also levying
taxes across the Strip to raise funds for itself.
Meanwhile, Hamas is
moving forward tentatively with an Islamization program.
police shaving the heads of youths with Western hairstyles, and passing into law
the segregation of boys and girls in schools.
But Hamas is afraid of
moving too fast or drastically and upsetting its population.
as if Hamas’s ambitions to solidify itself as a regime will act as a restraining
force on its jihadi ideology, although unexpected incidents could remove that
restraint at any time.