Hamas rule in Gaza: three years on

Prof. Yezid Sayigh writes:

More than a year after Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against Gaza, and with the crippling siege well into its fourth year, the rule of the Islamic Resistance Movement/Hamas over the narrow strip of territory looks set to endure. Fortuitous circumstances and the mistakes of others, rather than the coherence of its own policies, played a major role in the early consolidation of the “de facto” government headed by Hamas prime minister Ismail Hanieh; but a stable system is emerging nonetheless: one that often proceeds through trial and error, but which also shows considerable adaptability and a marked learning curve. Much of the government’s success in building a functioning public administration is due to its close, in some respects seamless relationship with Hamas, but that relationship also brings unexpected dilemmas and challenges in its wake. Above all, Hamas fears repeating the mistakes of its rival, the long-dominant Fatah, with respect to its symbiotic relationship with the Palestinian Authority: Fatah, it believes, was drawn by the mundane needs of governing daily life and the desire to preserve power into compromising on national goals—and Hamas sees Fatah and the PA as so closely bound together that the fate of the one determines the fortunes of the

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