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Despite sustaining significant damage to its infrastructure and capacity for violence during the previous conflict, Hamas in Gaza is once again resurgent – replenishing its weapons stockpiles and resuming construction of its offensive terror tunnel system.
Without counter-measures, it appears highly likely that Hamas will soon have the means to fight a fourth war, warns The Henry Jackson Society in a new report, Hamas Today: An Assessment of Alliances and Capabilities, launched yesterday in Parliament.
Examining the state of Hamas since the Gaza conflict last year, the paper finds that the group remains a corrosive and destabilising factor in the region. Links to terrorism in the Sinai peninsula and the Muslim Brotherhood have put Hamas at odds with the Sisi regime in Egypt, which has now imposed a tight blockade of Gaza. At the same time Hamas continues to enjoy sponsorship from powerful allies, courting Turkey and renewing ties with Iran while also continuing to receive the backing of Qatar.
Hamas remains a major obstacle to peace in the Israeli-Palestinian equation, and as the report outlines, with no real distinction between Hamas’ political and military wings, further outreach to Hamas is unlikely to yield progress. It is now essential that the international community prioritises preventing the flow of funds and arms to Hamas by coordinating with ongoing Egyptian and Israeli efforts so as to prevent further escalations.
Tom Wilson, Resident Associate Fellow at The Centre for The New Middle East at The Henry Jackson Society, commented:
“Hamas remains completely committed to an extremist and uncompromising ideology that prevents it from playing any kind of helpful part in achieving a sustainable peace. For the sake of stability in the region and the welfare of the population of Gaza, eliminating Hamas must be the long term goal. In the meantime it is important that all parties work to prevent further militarisation in Gaza and that the international community avoids any move that would embolden Hamas. Concessions to groups such as Hamas inevitably undermine Palestinian moderates and incentivise recourse to violence on the part of extremists.”