As part of an internal summary in the wake of last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip, Hamas has decided not to start a conflict of similar dimensions with Israel in the near future. This is according to an informed source, who recently spoke to several people in the organization’s political bureau, some of whom live in the Gaza Strip and outside it. At the same time, senior Hamas officials told Haaretz that recently they have been identifying signs that the Islamic regime’s efforts to improve its international status are bearing fruit.
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According to the source, the strategic decision regarding another conflict was made for several reasons. First, due to Israel’s aerial superiority, which leaves Hamas at a disadvantage. Second, because the last round of warfare did not lead to a lifting of the siege on Gaza – one of the stated objectives of the conflict. And also because of the number of Palestinian casualties in Operation Protective Edge and the immense damage caused to the Strip.
According to senior Hamas officials, the recovery in the diplomatic arena is reflected in the meeting of Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshal with the king of Saudi Arabia last month and his invitation to visit Moscow.
The same officials also speak of an improvement in relations between the organization and the Egyptian government. They say Egyptian officials recently conveyed via the country’s media a desire to calm the tension between the sides, and the Egyptian media itself has toned down its criticism of Hamas. The officials suggested that the strengthening of Hamas’ relations with Saudi Arabia and Russia would help improve it relations with Egypt. Moussa Abu Mazouk, No. 2 to Khaled Meshal in Hamas’ political bureau, made a similar statement in an interview on the official Hamas website.
In the interview Abu Marzouk also mentioned the contacts for a long-term cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, saying the sides have not agreed on implementing the conditions of the cease-fire, which were formulated at the end of Operation Protective Edge. At this stage, reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is not on the agenda. The most recent crisis between the sides relates to changes made by PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the composition of the “unity” government, which is effectively a PA government. After receiving the permission of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamdallah replaced several of his ministers without coordination with Hamas. Hamas declared that it does not intend to cooperate with the new ministers, and called for Abbas’ ouster from the government.
At the same time, Abbas was to meet yesterday in Cairo with Arab foreign ministers in an attempt to raise $100 million from the ministers for UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency, to ensure the opening of the school year on schedule, September 1, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. UNRWA recently warned that it is trying hard to prevent a strike the more than 600 schools operated by the agency in the West Bank, Gaza and surrounding countries, due to a severe shortage of budgets.
UNRWA operates 245 schools in the Gaza Strip with about 225,000 students, and another 99 in the West Bank with about 50,000 students. Leaving them out of school is liable to have serious security consequences.