The Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip appears on the verge of an explosion.
Palestinian sources and diplomats agree that the Gaza Strip has been wracked by increasing tension in wake of the 50-day war with Israel. They cited hundreds of thousands of Gazans promised housing financed by the international community in a project overseen by the Palestinian Authority.
“The level of anger against Hamas has filtered throughout society,” a Palestinian analyst who did not want to be identified said. “Right now, Hamas rules only through the power of the gun.”
The sources said the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip — for which the international community pledged $5.4 billion — has been delayed by disputes between Hamas and the PA. They said Hamas, despite a reconciliation accord with Fatah, has refused to cede control over either the security forces or civil service, which allows tens of thousands of Hamas members to receive monthly salaries.
“Hamas knows that if its members don’t get paid, it’s all over,” the analyst said. “So, they are still reporting to work everyday, although not under the Hamas framework.”
The stalemate between Fatah and Hamas has sparked bombings of opposition strongholds throughout the Gaza Strip. At the same time, Hamas supporters have been flocking to Al Qaida-aligned militias, including Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.
“There will be an explosion,” a former senior Palestinian intelligence chief told Neri Zilber, a visiting scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Whether it’s directed at Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, no one knows.”
In an analysis on Dec. 21, Zilber, an Israeli researcher, said Gaza was becoming “increasingly agitated” as Hamas blocked the return of the PA, a condition for international aid. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has asserted that Hamas, which renewed long-range rocket launches, was operating what he termed a “shadow government” in Gaza.
“How do you expect me to go work in the Gaza Strip,” Zilber quoted a senior official from the PA Preventive Security Agency as saying, “when the [Hamas military wing Izzedin] Kassam Brigades goes ahead of me in both power
The sources agreed that Hamas would seek to divert attention from the
prospect of massive unrest. They said Hamas, which has threatened “an explosion,” could enable Al
Qaida-aligned militias to renew limited rocket fire into Israel or organize massive infiltration attempts into the Jewish
state. So far, Hamas has allowed protests only against Israel and the United Nations.
“These days, Hamas doesn’t think in terms of years but in terms of weeks
or months,” a Palestinian source in the Gaza Strip said. “They will order an
escalation [against Israel] because that is preferable to a civil war in Gaza