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Gaza Tunnels And Hamas’ Determination

Palestinian security forces have discovered yet more tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, sheltered by structures on either side for concealment. While it is unclear which specific wing of the disparate ‘Palestinian security forces’ was responsible for the find, recent animosities between the Fatah and Hamas factions within the Palestinian territories may provide a clue.

idf-tunnel-find.jpgGaza is dominated on the ground by Hamas while much of the Palestinian Authority security forces remain loyal to their rival Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president. In recent days, Hamas’ reaffirmed refusal to recognize Israel and pre-existing agreements between Yassir Arafat’s PLO and the Jewish state has quelled the optimism once held for a Palestinian Unity government. Within the context of word that Abbas planned to confront Hamas in Gaza this week and issue an ultimatum regarding recognizing and negotiating with Israel, tensions between the two factions are relatively high and may serve to exacerbate the situation.

Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad said that a meeting between Abbas and Hamas’ PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was cancelled due to “disagreements and difficulties” without elaborating. He added that “We will overcome the problems. We haven’t hit a dead end.” But dead end or not, the distance between the two groups’ approaches is vast and no less polarizing than in American politics.

Further exemplifying the chasm between Hamas and Fatah, VOA News charcterized the position of Hamas’ PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar as believing that “it is useless to appease the West and recognize Israel since there has been no benefit from doing so in the past.”

While Hamas and Fatah battle for leadership within Gaza and the West Bank, the pressure is on Hamas from all sides as Israel has decided to keep captured Hamas legislators in jail until their legal proceedings have run their course, reversing an earlier decision to release them beforehand.