Hamas, Islamic Jihad endure ‘rift’ in Gaza

A Palestinian girl is seen during an anti-Israel protest near Beit El in the West Bank on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 17 November 2019

Hamas, Islamic Jihad endure ‘rift’ in Gaza

  • Hamas wants to have a long-term cease-fire with Israel

GAZA CITY: The latest round of military escalation in the Gaza Strip following the assassination of senior Islamic Jihad military leader Bahaa Abu Al-Atta painted many big questions about the future of the relationship between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which witnessed a “rift” in the response to the assassination.

There was anger among the popular bases of Islamic Jihad. Informed sources in both movements said that great efforts are being made at the political and military levels to repair the rift caused by the recent Israeli escalation.
The editor-in-chief of the Islamic Jihad newspaper Al-Istiqlal, Khaled Sadiq, acknowledged that Hamas’ stance not to respond to the assassination has created “anger” for some in the Islamic Jihad, especially among youth bases.
Sadiq said that the seriousness of this division emerged from the occupation’s attempt to split between the resistance factions in Gaza, which seems to have succeeded in deceiving Hamas and isolating them from participating in the response.
Ibrahim Al-Madhoun, a political analyst close to Hamas, explained its stance on the recent escalation, saying that it was keen to “spare the Palestinian people any aggression, wide and comprehensive.”
He added: “A full-scale war will displace hundreds of thousands of people, create thousands of martyrs and demolish houses without guarantee that this will translate into political achievement in the hostile regional and international environment, and that is why Hamas is trying to avoid a major confrontation with Israel at this time.”
He said that Hamas is interested in reaching a long-term cease-fire to prevent Israeli assassinations, bombings and to end the siege of the Gaza Strip.
Regarding Hamas’ stance on the recent escalation, he said “Hamas has more equations and calculations than Islamic Jihad in terms of confrontation with Israel.”
Most of the military wings operating in the Gaza Strip formed a joint operations room to coordinate field positions in 2018.
Nasser Al-Suweir, a researcher in the affairs of Islamic movements, said that the recent escalation experience recalled the “confrontation and dissonance” that has characterized the relationship between the two movements.
Al-Suweir described the relationship between Hamas and PIJ as “fragile and not rooted,” and there may be a “big rift” if the jihad decide to withdraw from the joint operations room.

Hamas has more equations and calculations than Islamic Jihad in terms of confrontation with Israel.

Ibrahim Al-Madhoun, Political analyst

He said that Hamas’ view of the resistance is completely different from Islamic Jihad’s.
He added that Hamas’ distancing itself from the participation of Islamic Jihad in the recent confrontation caused a “big shock,” even in the speech of Secretary-General Ziad Al-Nakhala, who did not hesitate to say that “Jihad leads the battle alone” in the sense that “Hamas abandoned them.”
Al-Suweir said that “Hamas in governing is not the same as Hamas in resistance, which did not hesitate to exercise all forms of resistance in the early years of the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, and rejected all forms of truce with the occupation.

Tehran mayor sees ‘threat’ in Iranians’ dissatisfaction

Updated 3 min 47 sec ago

Tehran mayor sees ‘threat’ in Iranians’ dissatisfaction

  • The International Monetary Fund predicts Iran’s economy will shrink by 6 percent this year

TEHRAN: Iran’s low voter turnout reflects a wider malaise in a country long buckling under sanctions and more recently also hit hard by the coronavirus, spelling “a threat for everyone,” Tehran’s mayor Pirouz Hanachi told AFP.

“The turnout at the ballot box is a sign of people’s satisfaction level,” said Hanachi, mayor of Iran’s political and business center and largest city, with more than 8 million people.

“When there is dissatisfaction with the government or the state, it then reaches everyone and that includes the municipality too,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.

Iran has suffered the double blow of a sharp economic downturn caused by US economic sanctions over its contested nuclear program, and the region’s most deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

Reformists allied with moderate President Hassan Rouhani lost their parliamentary majority in a landslide conservative victory in February, in a major setback ahead of presidential elections next year.

Voter turnout hit a historic low of less than 43 percent in the February polls after thousands of reformist candidates were barred from running by the Islamic republic’s powerful Guardian Council.

Such voter fatigue “can be a threat for everyone, not just reformists or conservatives,” warned the mayor, a veteran public servant with a background in urban development who is tied to the reformist camp.

The conservative resurgence reflects dissatisfaction with the Rouhani camp that had sought reengagement with the West and the reward of economic benefits — hopes that were dashed when US President Donald Trump in 2018 pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal and reimposed crippling sanctions.

The International Monetary Fund predicts Iran’s economy will shrink by 6 percent this year.

“We’re doing our best, but our situation is not a normal one,” Hanachi said. “We are under sanctions and in a tough economic situation.”

As he spoke in his town hall office, the shouts of angry garbage truck drivers echoed from the street outside, complaining they had not received pay or pensions for months.

The mayor downplayed the small rally as the kind of event that could happen in “a municipality in any other country,” adding that the men were employed not by the city itself but by contractors.

Iran’s fragile economy, increasingly cut off from international trade and deprived of crucial oil revenues, took another major blow when the novel coronavirus pandemic hit in late February.

Since then the outbreak has killed more than 12,000 people and infected over 248,000, with daily fatalities reaching a record of 200 early this week, according to official figures.

A temporary shutdown of the economy in recent months and closed borders sharply reduced non-oil exports, Iran’s increasingly important lifeline.

This accelerated the plunge of the Iranian rial against the US dollar, threatening to further stoke an already high inflation rate.

In just one impact, said Hanachi, the Teheran municipality lost 2 trillion rial ($9 million) because of sharply reduced demand for public transport in recent months.

As many Tehran residents got back into their cars to avoid tightly packed subways and buses, this has done nothing to help solve Tehran’s long-standing air pollution issue.

Tehran has had only 15 “clean” air quality days since the March 20 Persian New Year, according to the municipality.

One of Hanachi’s tasks is to fight both the virus and air pollution — a tough juggling act as car travel is safer for individuals but also worsens the smog that often cloaks the capital.

The mayor said he worried that, after restrictions on car travel were reimposed in May to reduce air pollution, subways are once again packed during peak hours, as is the bustling city center.

Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, which is now crowded with shoppers, warned Hanachi, “can become a focal point for the epidemic.”