As Hamas, hammered by unrelenting pressure from a supremely hostile Egypt, edges gingerly toward some kind of half hearted concessions on the question of negotiating with Israel and associating with the PA, a more radical and consistently rejectionist group is making headway in Gaza. The New York Times:
Smaller and less known internationally than the militant Islamic Hamas faction that has ruled since 2007, Islamic Jihad and its Al-Quds Brigades are having something of a renaissance. Last month the group captured global headlines by firing a barrage of 100 rockets toward Israel in less than an hour. Polls show that support for Islamic Jihad among residents of Gaza remains far below that of the leading political factions but has seen an uptick as the group has lately built health clinics, opened schools, and expanded its family-mediation services.
Though the Times notes that Islamic Jihad would join Hamas as part of a Palestinian leadership if a deal with the PLO was to be implemented, the group is for the time being standing apart. This is history repeating itself; as the Palestinian Authority under Arafat moved to accept Israel’s right to exist, Hamas rode to mass popularity on the rejectionist platform.Palestinian politics are complicated and there are lots of moving parts, but one thing to keep in mind: there are lots of Palestinians who see no advantage in peace with Israel. That sentiment is particularly strong in Gaza, where almost all the inhabitants are descended from the refugees of the 1940s and where the desire to return burns strong.