Reuters reports: It’s not quite a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but shared concern over Islamic State-inspired militant groups in Gaza could help redraw complex relationships between Hamas and a hostile Egypt and Israel.
Talk is rampant in the territory of 1.8 million of a prospective pullback from confrontation with Israel – a long-term ceasefire to cement further an Egyptian-brokered truce that brought an end to the Gaza war nearly a year ago.
That could allow Hamas to step up efforts to rein in radical Islamists, known as Salafis, who have claimed responsibility for recent rocket attacks against Israel, and open the way for more reconstruction aid to reach Gaza.
There are also signs of change along Egypt’s frontier with the Gaza Strip.
The military-run government in Cairo, which accuses Islamist Hamas of backing jihadi fighters in Egypt’s Sinai desert, opened its border with Gaza this week for the first time in three months, permitting Palestinians to travel in both directions.
“The new easing of measures results from the presence of a common enemy,” said Akram Attallah, a Gaza-based political commentator.
Hamas insists Islamic State has no foothold in Gaza, where the Palestinian group’s forces are dominant. It has described what Salafi groups say have been the arrests of dozens of their supporters as no more than action against “criminal elements”.
But by mounting such operations, some in the wake of Salafi-claimed rocket strikes, Hamas has also shown a commitment to a truce with Israel and demonstrated to Egypt that it is fighting the same jihadi enemy, Atallah said. [Continue reading…]