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Hamas military wing dictates movement's policies

Inside Hamas, the military branch is gradually taking even stronger control of the movement's institutions and blocking attempts to reach a long-term cease-fire with Israel.
Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, take part in a military parade marking the 27th anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY ANNIVERSARY) - RTR4HY1G

The tension between Hamas’ political and military wings is intensifying. Senior Palestinian Authority sources monitoring the events from within Hamas informed Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the leaders of the military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have been pressuring members of the political wing to stop probing the possibility of a diplomatic arrangement, whose main thrust is a long-term cease-fire. The military wing’s leader, Mohammed al-Deif, who according to reports has only recently resumed full activity in Hamas following an abortive attempt on his life during Operation Protective Edge in August, is pulling in a different direction. Espousing rapprochement with Iran, he wants to bolster Hamas’ military array in the Gaza Strip and prepare it for a future confrontation with Israel.

By contrast, the political wing, which understands full well Hamas’ dire situation in Gaza, is striving — through European brokers — for a long-term cease-fire with Israel. In its members' opinion, this direction will lead to a significant easing of the ongoing blockade over Gaza. The members of the movement’s political wing — Khaled Meshaal, Mousa Abu Marzouk, Ismail Haniyeh and others — apparently understand all too well that given that Egypt has almost completely sealed the Rafah border crossing and declared Hamas a terrorist movement, the chances for preserving a long-term Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip are getting slimmer. If Hamas fails to reach a rapprochement with Saudi Arabia — a possible new patron (following Qatar’s cold shoulder) — and if it fails to reach a long-term cease-fire arrangement with Israel, another armed confrontation with tragic consequences is just a matter of time.

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