Intra-Palestinian Feud Risks Upending Gaza Truce
Following last week’s 48-hour military exchange between Israel and the Iranian-backed, Gaza Strip-based Islamic Jihad, intra-Palestinian tensions are threatening to destabilize a fragile truce. Despite public demonstrations of unity over the weekend, Islamic Jihad leaders reportedly remain furious at Hamas, which despite ruling the enclave and being committed to Israel’s destruction did not participate in the latest round of fighting. The “bad blood” manifested in an attack on Friday on the convoy of senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar as he was trying to pay a condolence call to the family of Baha abu al-Ata, the former Islamic Jihad commander whose targeted killing by Israel precipitated the recent flare-up. Many Gazans have likewise pointed a disapproving finger at Hamas, which considers itself the leader of the Palestinian “resistance” against Israel. However, analysts believe that the terrorist group’s current priority is fostering long-term calm in order to improve the economic situation in the blockaded territory. Some also postulate that Islamic Jihad has become a thorn in Hamas’ side – by threatening its military dominance – and that Gaza’s rulers were therefore eager to see Israel cut their competitor down to size. Last week’s cease-fire also reportedly caused internal divisions within Islamic Jihad, many leading figures of which wanted to continue the assault on Israel.