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March 15, 2018 12:08 pm

What Does It Say if Hamas Can’t Even Protect Its Own Guests?

avatar by Eyal Zisser / Israel Hayom / JNS.org

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Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrives at the inauguration ceremony of a waste treatment plant after an explosion targeted his convoy, in the northern Gaza Strip, March 13, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Mohammed Salem.

JNS.org – Sitting in his office in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas surely must have pondered his own possible fate had he — instead of his prime minister, Rami Hamdallah — been the one visiting Gaza on Tuesday.

Would he also have survived the assassination attempt made against Hamdallah? Would the perpetrators have placed “only” one bomb on the side of the road? Would they have allowed him to return home in one piece?

Here we have one more reason for Abbas to postpone any further trips to Gaza — and to pause before hailing an illusory reconciliation with Hamas. It is also safe to assume that Abbas hasn’t forgotten or forgiven Hamas for overthrowing him in Gaza in 2007, when members of the terrorist organization seized control of the territory by ruthlessly killing a large number of Fatah officials who were working there. Some of them were thrown off buildings.

Hamas, in step with its usual modus operandi, rushed to distance itself from the assassination attempt — and harshly condemned it. It even boasted that it had arrested those responsible — and, as always, it pointed an accusatory finger at Israel. (As if Israel could have been behind such a clumsy, amateurish attack). However, whether Hamas or one of the recalcitrant terrorist groups operating under its supervision is behind the assassination attempt, responsibility ultimately falls on Hamas’ shoulders, as the sovereign power in the territory.

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Hamas isn’t really interested in advancing intra-Palestinian reconciliation. But at the same time, it wants the PA’s help to boost Gaza’s sputtering economy. After all, the purpose of Hamdallah’s visit to Gaza was to help advance construction on a sewage treatment and water delivery project.

For this reason alone, it’s unreasonable to assume that Hamas was behind the assassination attempt — if indeed that was the purpose of the attack, rather than to simply intimidate or send a threatening message to Ramallah.

What’s more, Hamdallah and Majed Faraj, the PA intelligence chief, are not important enough to justify the investment in killing them — and certainly not in a manner that could lead back to Hamas. We can safely surmise, therefore, that a wayward faction in Gaza — likely with Islamic State affiliations — was behind the attack.

Either way, it is evident that Hamas’ rule in Gaza is a complete failure — not just in the economic and social realms, but even when it comes to security, Hamas’ pride and joy.

To be sure, an attempt to assassinate a visiting PA prime minister, who is in Gaza under the protection of Hamas, is quite significant. Moreover, one must wonder: If Hamas is incapable of protecting its guests, how can it protect its own leaders and commanders?

Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.

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