During 3 days of battles between Israel and “Islamic Jihad” in the Gaza Strip, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, did not intervene to support “Jihad”, amid indications of the two groups competing to “rule the Strip”, in light of wide “political and ideological differences” between the two parties. According to what analysts spoke to, Al-Hurra website indicated.
On Sunday, Islamic Jihad and Israel agreed an Egyptian-brokered truce in Gaza to end three days of violence that killed 43 Palestinians, according to AFP.
Since Friday, Israel has carried out air and artillery strikes, mainly targeting sites of the Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza, which responded by firing hundreds of rockets, in the most severe confrontation since the May 2011 war, which lasted 11 days and destroyed the poor coastal strip.
However, Hamas’ position on the Israeli attack caused bewilderment after it left “Jihad” to face its fate alone, in a battle that resulted in the neutralization of the movement’s main military leaders.
Hamas only called on the international community to “move urgently to stop the aggression on Gaza,” but it did not intervene militarily in the conflict, which prompted Israel to praise the movement’s position.
Why didn’t Hamas intervene?
According to Israeli political analyst Eli Nissan, Hamas did not interfere in the recent conflict, “to avoid an escalation with Israel.”
Speaking to Al-Hurra website, Nissan said that Hamas “stood by and watched”, to watch the Islamic Jihad movement receive “painful blows” without interference from it, considering that “Islamic Jihad directing rockets towards Israel did not appeal to Hamas.”
He stressed that “Hamas tried to persuade Islamic Jihad not to launch rockets at Israel at the beginning of the battles, but the latter did not comply with that,” he said.
For her part, political analyst Hind Al-Dhawi points out that “Hamas has achieved several political and economic gains during the past period and has received facilities from the governments of Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett,” which prompted it to avoid engaging in the conflict.
These facilities led to “the easing of the siege on the Strip and the increase in the number of workers coming from it to Israel to 20,000, in light of the deteriorating economic conditions in the Strip and the collapse of Hamas’ relationship with many of the countries that support it,” according to Al-Dhawi’s interview with Al-Hurra website.
Common interests and different agendas
Both Hamas and Jihad are linked to the “Muslim Brotherhood”, as well as participating in receiving “money and weapons” from Iran, according to a Reuters report.
Both Hamas, which has fought five conflicts with Israel since 2009, and Islamic Jihad are listed as terrorist organizations by the West.
Jihad shares with Hamas a common hostility to Israel and an ideological commitment to establishing an Islamic Palestinian state, but the two groups have separate identities and some differences, according to the Reuters report.
Nissan asserts that “the project of resistance and confronting Israel” is a common denominator between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as the relationship with Iran, but “to varying degrees.”
Jihad is closely linked to Iran, and the majority of the movement’s leaders live there, and receive support, weapons and “orders” from it, but Hamas “is linked to Iran to a lesser extent,” according to an April interview.
For her part, Al-Dhawi points to major ideological and political differences between “Jihad and Hamas.” The latter has “regional ties and is part of the Muslim Brotherhood”, while “Jihad is more supported by Iran.”
A struggle for power and influence
The head of the Israeli General Security Service (Shin Bet), Ronen Bar, spoke of the separation between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, referring to “the achievement of a strategic goal.”
During the cabinet meeting on Saturday, the security services’ leaders stressed the “importance of maintaining this separation.”
But Nissan refers to the existing differences between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, saying: “Strife and confrontations have been going on for some time between them, and there is a struggle and competition for power and influence between the two movements in the Gaza Strip.”
During the past years, “Islamic Jihad” has focused on military activity only, as it does not have the infrastructure or responsibilities like Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, and is responsible for the government and the daily needs of more than 2.3 million people, according to AFP.
Al-Dhawi talks about a “Hamas project” with Israel, brokered by Egypt, about a long-term truce in the Gaza Strip, which raises differences between “Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”
The project aims to “reconstruct the Strip and inaugurate a seaport and economic projects to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians, which will help Hamas continue to rule the Strip,” according to Al-Dhawi.
Al-Dhawi talks about “the jihad’s desire to participate in the agreement and obtain privileges inside Gaza, and the participation of Hamas in ruling the Strip,” which led to major differences between the two movements.