For three days of Israeli aggression on Gaza, Hamas flatly rejected calls for mediation and said that those who want to go down that route should go to Egypt. But yesterday the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, Mousa Abu Marzouk, hinted at the possibility of accepting mediation with Israel, and not only this, he also stressed the need to go to the United Nations and complete President Abbas’ project, even though Abbas has not been enthusiastic about Hamas in the past.
What does it all mean? The fact is that the current Israeli aggression against Gaza comes at a complex time not only for the region, but also within Gaza itself. Hamas leadership positions remain unresolved; will Mishal continue or will he devolve power to Haniyeh or even Abu Marzouk himself? This is not all either. Days before the Israeli aggression, leaders of a Salafi group in Gaza accused Hamas of pursuing its activists. Then the leader of the Mujahideen Shura Council, Anas Abdul Rahman, added: “There is no relationship between the Salafi jihadis and Hamas and its government, except through security prosecutions and within prisons”. The story does not stop here. Even on the eve of the Israeli aggression, Palestinian factions in Gaza were divided over whether to stop firing rockets and commit to a truce, and there are a number of conflicting statements from these factions themselves. Finally, with regards to Hamas’ relations with the Palestinian Authority, eight days ago the Hamas deputy said that an Abbas visit to Gaza would “not be welcomed”.
All this tells us that the Israeli aggression has taken place amidst a real struggle in Gaza. There is a power struggle within Hamas, and for control of the Gaza Strip, aside from the conflict with the pro-Iran groups, whose goals conflict with Hamas’ stance on the Syrian revolution for example. There are also disputes with those who want to get closer to Egypt, or who want to respond to the recent Qatari initiative, represented by the Emir of Qatar’s visit to Gaza and the announcement of huge financial investments there! So, the Israeli aggression does not only represent a predicament for Egyptian President Mursi, or for Qatar’s recent investments, but it also represents a predicament for Hamas, its relations with other factions in Gaza, and its future role. Here we must consider what the Israeli activist Gershon Baskin – the mediator between Israel and Hamas for the Gilad Shalit deal – said about the assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari: “He was a man with sweeping powers, a leader in every sense of the word. He was sincere in seeking a truce, and he played a large role in stopping the rocket fire into Israel by Palestinian factions. Even when Hamas was firing rockets, he made sure that these rockets landed in open spaces so that there were no human casualties”. Of course we must also remember the Egyptian Prime Minister’s call to the Palestinians on his recent visit to Gaza!
Thus it is clear that some members of the Hamas leadership, including the assassinated al-Jabari, are looking for a truce, whilst some factions want a war. Therefore, today Hamas is leaning towards Egyptian mediation and calling for the involvement of Abbas, in order to kill two birds with one stone. In doing so it will put a stop to the war and as a result Hamas’ control will be restored, not only over Gaza but over all its factions, Iranian or otherwise. Hamas is in more trouble this time than some people think, as evidenced by many aforementioned indicators. The victim – as usual – is the Palestinian cause and the people of Gaza, and the beneficiary is always the Israeli enemy.