Hamas has been quiet, but Islamic Jihad has stepped up to the plate with attacks on Israel. Is HISH becoming IHIJ?
The intrepid Eli Lake has a report asking whether Hamas is moderating. Strictly speaking, no. But they are pragmatic. The Gaza faction is now finding itself running a mini-state and clashing with Israel is expensive. The Shalit deal is an incentive to kidnap more Israeli soldiers, but it also may buy Hamas some breathing space to begin working with Fatah again. Lake’s report focuses on Khaled Mashal, Hamas’ Damascus-based leader. The Damascus faction, recipient of Baathist largesse, usually spearheaded the toughest line against Israel. But Lake notes that the Syrian turmoil may be influencing Mashal’s outlook.
Again, Hamas is not suddenly becoming the Quacker Friends! But they may be seeking a modus vivendi like Hezbollah in Lebanon has achieved. They don’t love Israel, but they have other commitments that make open warfare expensive.
Islamic Jihad has no identity other then violence. Although smaller then Hamas, it has always focused on high-quality terror attacks. It also has been heavily sponsored by Iran – unlike Hamas and Hezbollah it does not have a broad social base of its own. An uptick of Islamic Jihad violence is likely as members of Hamas’ armed wing join up looking for action.
Meanwhile, Iran may be losing its most valuable ally in Syria and Hamas may have other fish to fry. But Iran still needs a stake in the conflict with Israel, thus Islamic Jihad fits the bill.
Meanwhile, turmoil in Sinai continues and the possibility of loose weapons of Qaddhafi’s arsenal ending up in Gaza remains – the spark to Gaza’s gasoline.