Some Hamas Leaders Want Calm, Some Don't

(Jerusalem Post) Jonathan Schanzer and Grant Rumley - The regime in Egypt, which sees Hamas as an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood movement it toppled in 2013, has destroyed an estimated 2,000 smuggling tunnels - and even flooded some with tear gas - thereby cutting off Hamas' access to weapons, cash and goods. Hamas leaders know that if they are ever to convince Egypt to open its borders, they will need to charm Cairo's financial patrons in Saudi Arabia. Hamas knows that another war with Israel, especially one fought with Iranian weapons, will not necessarily earn the favor of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the other Sunni states. Between the Iranian nuclear threat and the expansion of the Islamic State, the Sunnis don't want any more conflict in the region - even against Israel - if it can yield Iran more leverage. This might explain why Hamas has defied its own principles by engaging in behind-the-scenes cease-fire negotiations with Israel. Senior Hamas official Ahmed Youssef recently acknowledged the Islamist group was in indirect "chats" with Israel via international mediation. But even if some Hamas members want to sue for calm, others may not be inclined to go along. Mohammad Deif, Hamas' top military commander, believed to be dead after an Israeli strike last summer, is alive and preparing for another round. Deif will undoubtedly look to Iran to restock his rocket supply. We can also expect an encore of the 40 tunnels that prompted last summer's Israeli ground invasion. Deif was the brains behind those tunnels and Hamas is rebuilding them. Jonathan Schanzer is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Grant Rumley is a research analyst.

2015-05-22 00:00:00

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