GAZA CITY – This summer’s 51-day war on Gaza left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, over 11,000 injured, and vast areas of devastation that will take years to rebuild. After the third Israeli war on Gaza in less than six years, many Palestinians are questioning the purpose of continuing to fight – and hoping for a solution that does not increase their suffering. Can Hamas, with its newly acquired position at the forefront of Palestinian politics, provide such a solution?
Before the latest war erupted, Hamas was politically isolated. It had lost traditional allies in Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah. Most damaging, the ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government had deprived Hamas of its lifeline of supplies and armaments.
Egypt’s military regime, led by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has been unrelentingly hostile toward Hamas, blaming it for the fighting in Sinai between the army and insurgent groups. Egypt even mounted an operation to destroy the tunnels between Gaza and Sinai, isolating Gaza completely.
Hamas faced an intensifying crisis. Unable to pay the salaries of more than 40,000 public employees in Gaza, it was being slowly strangled by the Israeli and Egyptian authorities. And the unity government that it established with the Palestinian Authority in June brought no relief.