Palestinian Affairs

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Observers: 2014 “Going to be a Very Bad Year” for Hamas

Deutsche Welle assessed last week that the coming year will likely witness a continuing decline in Hamas’s domestic and regional positions, with the German outlet quoting Gaza-based political scientist Mukhaimar Abusaada bluntly evaluating that under “under the current circumstances 2014 is going to be a very bad year” for the Iran-backed terror group.

Money is so tight that Hamas has not paid full salaries to its 47,000 employees in the last six months. The 2014 budget already has a deficit of 75 percent. Hamad said his government is performing a triage, trying to preserve the work of the security, health and education ministries and stripping down operations of other offices.

The Egyptian army, which blames Hamas for facilitating the transfer of materials and personnel to jihadists operating in the Sinai Peninsula, has systematically destroyed the labyrinth of smuggling tunnels that had linked the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to the Sinai, and that had served as Hamas’s economic lifeline to the outside world.

“Three years ago, when we got Egyptian diesel the generators worked longer hours,” Abusaada told DW. “For the past six months since the closure of the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt we are running from crisis to crisis.” El-Sissi has also declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization – implicating its sister movement Hamas as well…Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad confirmed his movement is facing dire straits. “It’s not easy for us,” Hamad told DW by phone. “We feel some countries are working against Hamas, to undermine and destroy the project of resistance.”

Another 10 tunnels were reportedly destroyed by Cairo in recent days. Analysts believe that the group is seeking to reestablish its anti-Israel brand by launching spectacular terror attacks – attempts have been foiled both out of Gaza and in the West Bank – but its options are limited and Egyptian officials have put Hamas on notice that it can expect crippling consequences should it be caught attacking Israel from Egyptian soil. Hamas leaders themselves had declared months ago that Cairo’s moves against the organization constituted a “death sentence.” Evidence that the Islamist group is in a downward spiral aligns poorly with analysis – pushed as recently as last year by a range of experts and international diplomats – insisting that Hamas would be in control of Gaza indefinitely, and that Israel and the West would have to make concessions to the Iranian proxy simply as a function of brute geopolitical realities. Writing in December 2012 in the Daily Beast’s Open Zion, a platform which at the time still existed and was edited by Peter Beinart, Baruch College associate professor Dov Waxman declared that Hamas ought to be engaged – even at the likely cost of “enhanc[ing] its international legitimacy and probably boost[ing] its popularity among Palestinians, and… further undermin[ing] the power of President Abbas” because “[t]he lamentable fact is that Hamas is firmly in control of the Gaza Strip.” Waxman continued by emphasizing that “[t]o ignore this reality or try to change it by ignoring Hamas is both futile and counterproductive” and blasted “hawkish pro-Israel activists” who implied otherwise.

[Photo: Sacha Dratwa / YouTube]