MidEast

Hamas Official Bemoans “Death Sentence” as Egypt Deepens Terror Group’s Isolation

Hamas spent weeks in fall 2012 deliberately escalating the amount and sophistication of rockets and missiles it launched against Israelis. The result was an eight-day bombing campaign by Israel that severely degraded the group’s command and control infrastructure and highlighted Hamas’s ability to penetrate Israel’s Iron Dome-based missile shield.

To the south of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the Palestinian terror Hamas aligned itself with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which was then in control of Egypt. The move put the group on the wrong side of the Egyptian military, which was already at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood-linked government of President Mohammed Morsi. Egyptian military officials waged a media war to erode Hamas’s standing inside the country, and – after Morsi fell – moved to close both Gaza’s smuggling tunnels and border crossings. The result largely cut Hamas off from the outside world.

By mid-2013 regional blocs were forming in the Middle East. The U.S.’s traditional Israeli and Arab allies were pitted opposite a Shiite extremist Iranian/Syrian/Hezbollah axis, and both of them were opposite a Sunni extremist bloc that included the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey, and Qatar. Hamas tried to triangulate between the Shiite and Sunni extremist blocs. It ended up alienating both.

The left-leaning Israeli paper Haaretz quotes a Hamas official declaring that it’s over:

That is precisely Hamas’s problem. It was kicked by Iran and then “sentenced to death” by Egypt, in the words of a senior Hamas official. Jordan won’t let the organization open an active branch there and Qatar sends small change with a promise of more. But with the Rafah crossing to Egypt open fitfully (it’s been closed for the last three days) and Israel impeding the entry into the Strip of building materials, the aid from Qatar has little impact… Walls in Gaza are now filled with graffiti calling for an end to Hamas rule, while Palestinian media outlets in the West Bank report Gazans’ dissatisfaction with the Hamas regime and their loss of personal security.

Evaluating Hamas’s precipitous decline weeks ago, Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argued that Western policy makers have a narrow window of opportunity to strike a death blow to the group.

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