Israel recently concluded a cease-fire agreement with Palestinian Islamic Jihad after 5 days of rocket fire against Israeli civilians and devastating surgical strikes by Israel against the group’s leadership. Islamic Jihad is a major terror entity operating within Gaza, along with Hamas. Both share a common hatred of Israel, although they also have very different agendas. Hamas formed in 1987 has held political control over the Gaza Strip since it seized power in a violent coup from Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party in 2007. Islamic Jihad has had a presence there for decades. Both groups fire rockets at Israel and want the Jewish state replaced by an Islamic Palestinian state, yet a major difference exists between the two. Professor Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern and African Studies, told journalists, “Each of them has a totally different view about how to run the fight against Israel and how to bring in salvation for the Palestinians.”
Rabi sees Hamas as having a more political, long-term priority, which is why Hamas stayed out of the most recent round of fighting. “Hamas would like to have a foothold in Judea, in Samaria, and in due time, actually, to replace Mahmoud Abbas, the old leader of Fatah movement, and they would like to turn Hamas into the unquestionable leader of Palestine,” Rabi said, and added, “They are also having kind of an influence in East Jerusalem.” Hamas also wants to be seen as the protector of the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.
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