Israel holds off as Hamas reins in Isis


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.

This tacit deal is possible because Hamas needs to rein in Salafist groups in Gaza that have aligned themselves with Islamic State (Isis).

The extremist militant groups have been firing the rockets 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 the Isis-affiliated groups and work to bolster the ceasefire.

Egypt, which is working closely with Israel on confronting Hamas, has also signalled 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 reopening 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 a large proportion of the supplies will be used for civilian purposes as well, providing impetus for Hamas to continue focusing on rebuilding and fighting Islamic State.

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