Hamas cracks down on Islamic State in tacit understanding with Israel


Israel is officially holding Hamas responsible for the recent rocket attacks from Gaza.

However, behind the scenes, there is a silent understanding that Hamas will be allowed time to deal with the groups that fired the rockets, and that both sides will try to prevent a new escalation.

The reason for this tacit accommodation with Hamas is its need to rein in Salafist groups in Gaza that have aligned themselves with Islamic State (IS) and have been firing the rockets, both in a show of defiance towards Hamas and in an attempt to provoke a new outbreak of fighting.

There are currently no direct talks taking place between Israel and Hamas but the hope in Israeli security circles is that if the necessary funds are transferred to Gaza, the movement will focus on rebuilding the hundreds of homes destroyed in the fighting last summer, continue fighting IS and work to bolster the ceasefire.

Egypt, which is working closely with Israel on confronting Hamas, has also signaled that it is prepared to ease its pressure on the movement.

Last week, an Egyptian court cancelled a previous ruling classifying Hamas as a terrorist organisation and, this week, Egyptian officers met Hamas representatives to discuss ending the closure of the Rafah crossing from Egypt.

Israeli security officials are under no illusions that the building materials Israel now allows into Gaza - with few restrictions - will not be used by Hamas to build fortifications and tunnels. The hope, however, is that enough of the supplies will be used for civilian purposes as well, providing impetus for Hamas to continue focusing on rebuilding and fighting ISIS.

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