Analysis: Hamas down but not out

Senior officer: Hamas made almost every possible mistake trying to solidify its power base.

hamas gunman 298 88 ap (photo credit: AP[file])
hamas gunman 298 88 ap
(photo credit: AP[file])
The growing anarchy and bloodshed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has enfeebled Hamas's leadership, senior IDF officers said Monday, but not to the point that the Palestinian Authority government will collapse. "What we are seeing is an isolated weakening of Hamas," one intelligence official said, predicting that the current situation would resolve itself and not escalate into a civil war leading to the Hamas government's downfall. Nonetheless, Military Intelligence followed Monday's developments in the Gaza Strip with grave concern, fearing the possibility that if the gun battles between Fatah and Hamas continue, the violence could spill over into Israel in the form of terror attacks. Hamas's lack of political experience, one senior officer said, had also contributed to its difficulties. It had made almost every mistake in the book when trying to solidify its power base in the PA corridors of political power, he said. "[PA Prime Minister] Ismail Haniyeh made a huge mistake coming out publicly against [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas," he said. "They are just not used to being in charge yet." But while Hamas's decline had created a power vacuum, IDF sources said that Fatah, due to its own power struggles and instability, was incapable of filling the void and retaking the reins. "Fatah is not filling the vacuum that Hamas is opening for it," the officer said. "So what is happening is that there is almost no one in charge [of the PA]." Hamas's rejection of Abbas's ultimatum regarding acceptance of the prisoners' document was also not likely lead to a civil war, intelligence officers predicted. "They are already having difficulty paying salaries," one said. "A civil war would just make things worse." The army was happy with Abbas's ultimatum, which indicated that he was acting like a true leader and making efforts to launch talks with Israel, officers said.