Palestinian Authority autocrat Mahmoud Abbas feels Gazans are quickly reaching the point when their despair will outweigh their fear of Hamas reprisals, so Abbas is determined to exploit this window of opportunity by turning up the heat, making the Gazan’s lives even more miserable.
By Ariel Schmidberg and Ram Liran
While Hamas celebrated Friday’s deadly terrorist attack on the Temple Mount, which it hoped would spark a destabilizing religious war in the region, underneath the surface the terrorist organization’s situation is far from joyous.
Thousands of Gazans in Jabalya marched toward the Hamas-owned electricity company in protest of repeated power outages. – Screenshot from Twitter post.
According to Israeli assessments, Hamas’ leadership is growing increasingly concerned about a popular uprising that could jeopardize its rule over the Gaza Strip.
Based on assessments in Israel, the severe power crisis in Gaza in recent weeks has the potential, from Hamas’ perspective, to turn into the “perfect storm.” The recent measures implemented by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — namely stopping the transfer of significant funds to Gaza and cutting the electricity supply — have essentially backed Hamas against a wall.
The PA senses that Hamas is vulnerable, Israeli officials believe, which has led it to amplify the pressure on the terrorist organization. Abbas’ goal is to bring Hamas to its knees and force it to give the PA renewed — albeit limited — power in the enclave. PA officials in Ramallah feel Gazans are fast approaching the point when their despair will outweigh their fear of Hamas’ reprisals, and they are determined to exploit the window of opportunity.
The concern, however, is that exacerbating the economic and humanitarian crises in Gaza entails certain risks for Israel, including a swift deterioration of the security situation in the south. The defense establishment in recent months has gauged Hamas’ interest in another war to be very low, although the situation is always considered highly combustible. Senior defense officials have warned that both sides could find themselves locked in a quick downward spiral that neither side wants. This assessment has become more prescient in recent weeks in light of the deteriorating economic crisis in Gaza.
The decision by the PA leadership to harshen its tone against Hamas stems from the terrorist group’s rapidly dwindling international status in recent months.
A historical low
Hamas relations with Egypt are at an unprecedented low point. Meanwhile, the diplomatic crisis surrounding Qatar, which has transferred a great deal of money to Hamas in recent years, is highlighting the fact that Hamas has now lost its last strong ally in the Arab world.
President Trump tells Palestinian serious message in Bethlehem – Screenshot: White House:IsraelandStuff.
Israeli officials note that U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech in Riyadh — during which no Arab representative protested Hamas’ portrayal as an illegitimate regional player and essential equivalent of al-Qaida, Islamic State and Hezbollah — deepened the organization’s diplomatic isolation. Hamas leaders were enraged that Arab leaders did not lift a finger to protest Trump’s declarations.
Haniyeh still looking for a home
A tangible byproduct of this diplomatic development is the fact that no country has been willing to host Hamas’ newly elected political chief Ismail Haniyeh on its soil, as reported by Israel Hayom in late June.
Mega-millionaire Ismail Haniya, Hamas’ newly elected political chief is stuck in Gaza. – Photo: EPA
According to the report, senior Hamas officials who visited Cairo earlier that month said Iran had offered to host Haniyeh and the organization’s political bureau, but that Hamas turned the offer down. It was also reported that senior Hamas officials considered the possibility that Egypt would allow Haniyeh to maintain a low profile in Cairo, but Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi rejected the proposal outright and even rebuffed Hamas’ request to open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza to allow Haniyeh to enter and exit freely.
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