Hamas’ Sudden Vulnerability
The chaotic changes in the Middle East have had at least one positive result at the moment: the weakening of Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip. Because of alignment decisions made by the Islamist group in both Egypt and Syria, Hamas has emerged as a big loser. (See related story, “The Mideast Game”)
Having been a strong supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas was first ignored and then targeted when the Egyptian military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi last month. Following the coup, Egypt closed hundreds of smuggling tunnels into Gaza, cutting off vital supplies, depriving the Hamas government of much-needed tax revenue and compounding the territory’s budget deficit. And because it took the side of the Sunni rebels in Syria’s civil war, Hamas also lost its patrons in Damascus and Tehran and the support of its former ally, Hezbollah.
Hamas’ newfound vulnerability has encouraged some homegrown opposition. A group called Tamarod Gaza, which took its name from the Egyptian protest group that collected millions of signatures in the days leading to Morsi’s ouster, posted a YouTube video and Facebook page calling for the overthrow of Hamas and for mass demonstrations. In response, Hamas detained 50 Tamarod Facebook fans, which appears to be a harsh response that reveals apparent concern over the possibility of a social media-supported uprising in Gaza.
We don’t feel bad for the weakened Hamas. In fact, it is hard not to feel some sense of satisfaction that Arab-world financial support for the hate-mongering terrorists has dried up. But while we have no love for Hamas, the sober reality is that it is the only group currently strong enough to keep the peace in the simmering Gaza Strip and to stop the rockets from being launched into Israel.
And so, it is with a profound sense of irony that Israel and Hamas are reported to be coordinating with one another on security issues, and Hamas is helping to keep the peace. Adding to the confusing new reality is the description of the situation by Amos Harel, chief military correspondent for the newspaper Haaretz, who told The Washington Post: “It’s been
like a honeymoon these days between Hamas and Israel.”
In the Middle East, it appears that strange bedfellows take honeymoons together.