Hamas’s failure to join the round of fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was one of the main reasons why it agreed to the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, Palestinians said on Thursday.Moreover, they said, the heavy casualties PIJ suffered during the two days of fighting – which began after Tuesday’s assassination of PIJ commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata – contributed to that terror group’s decision to accept Egypt’s mediation efforts. Several Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said that relations between Hamas and PIJ have been strained as a result of this week’s fighting with Israel, and that tensions between the two groups could trigger a crisis between Hamas and Iran.Officials from the two groups, however, sought to dismiss the talk about a crisis between Hamas and PIJ, and accused Israel of seeking to drive a wedge between the Gaza-based groups.Sources close to Hamas explained that the movement chose not to involve itself in the fighting out of fear of dragging the Gaza Strip into an all-out war with Israel.“The residents of the Gaza Strip can’t afford another major war like the one that took place in 2014,” the sources said, referring to the seven-week Operation Protective Edge military offensive that occurred after Hamas fired rockets into Israel.According to the sources, Hamas did not believe that the assassination of al-Ata was sufficient to spark another war with Israel.“As far as Hamas was concerned, this was an internal issue concerning Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” the sources explained. “While Hamas did not try to stop the group from avenging the death of its commander, it saw no reason why its men should join the rocket attacks on Israel.”Palestinian political analysts claimed that Israel relayed a message to Hamas shortly after the targeted killing of al-Ata to the effect that the IDF would not target the movement as long as it does not fire rockets at Israel. The message, they said, was delivered to Hamas through senior Egyptian intelligence officials.Hamas, meanwhile, is facing sharp criticism from many Palestinians for its refusal to join the fighting. Some PIJ officials have also privately criticized the Hamas stance.The officials were quoted as saying that the leaders of Hamas are afraid of “losing the Qatari suitcases of cash,” referring to Qatar’s cash grants that were delivered to the Gaza Strip in the context of the ceasefire understandings reached with Israel earlier this year.In response, Hamas officials said that the movement’s long-standing position is that any decision to go to war with Israel should be taken by all Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, and not by one alone.PIJ officials tried to depict their agreement to the ceasefire as a “victory,” insisting that Israel had “begged” the Egyptians and UN mediators for an end to the violence. They claimed that the Iranian-backed PIJ has consolidated its role as a major player in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip by engaging alone in two days of fighting with Israel. The officials also boasted that their rockets had paralyzed half of Israel, prompting it to seek a quick end to the violence.“We have shown that we can go to war without Hamas,” said a PIJ official. “We are no longer seen as the little brother of Hamas.”Hamas, on the other hand, has emerged from the Israel-PIJ conflict as the “responsible adult” that managed to avoid plunging the Gaza Strip into another war with Israel. Hamas is already facing growing discontent over its failure to improve the living conditions of Palestinians, and the last thing it needs now is another war that would further undermine its rule over the coastal enclave.It now remains to be seen how Iran will react to Hamas’s failure to help Tehran’s major proxy, PIJ. In recent years, Hamas has made a big effort to mend fences with Iran in the wake of the crisis that erupted between them over the civil war in Syria. Hamas’s failure to side with Syrian President Bashar Assad against the opposition forces in his country angered Tehran, whose leaders responded by reducing financial and military aid to Hamas.