One of the things to watch for as tensions escalate between Gaza and Israel is the extent to which Ismail Haniyeh’s authority is eroded within the Strip. Hamas is clearly responsible for launching a number of missiles into southern Israel, yet it does not have a monopoly on the violence. Salafi-Jihadist groups such as Jund Ansar Allah and Tawhid wal-Jihad also operate in the region and are acting unilaterally when it comes to attacking Israel.
Haniyeh failed to broker a deal between the various factions earlier this week, once it was clear that Israel would no longer tolerate rocket attacks. All this reveals the limits of any political pressure which might be brought to bear on Gaza’s administration. The United States and Egypt will call on Hamas to avoid a full confrontation with Israel – but unless Haniyeh can exert authority over other groups operating in Gaza then the immediate future looks very bleak indeed.
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