A Palestinian security official told Reshet Bet that Hamas is isolated and experiencing its most difficult time yet, since losing its allies in the region, most notably deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
The Islamist Hamas group is an offshoot of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.
The source estimates that after the Morsi era, Egypt is expected to limit the movements of senior Hamas leaders, and tighten controls over weapons and money smuggling into Gaza. There may also be limits set on Egyptian banks working with Hamas.
The Palestinian security official concluded that the isolation forced on Hamas so unexpectedly may be the beginning of a popular uprising against its rule in Gaza. But, naturally, this might be more wishful thinking on the part of the PLO than a realistic assessment of the chances of a popular uprising in Gaza.
Still, there’s no denying that Hamas is in trouble, especially since Egypt’s security forces have begun to invest in sealing off Palestinian access through the smuggling tunnels several weeks before Morsi was removed from power.
An Egyptian army crackdown months ago on the tunnel network has led to a severe fuel crisis in the Gaza Strip. Fuel arriving from Israel costs double the price of fuel brought in from Egypt via the tunnels.
Construction, once a booming business in Gaza, has slowed because of restrictions on the smuggling of cement, which also caused its prices to rocket.
On Wednesday Egypt opened its above-ground crossing with the Gaza Strip for several hours to allow stranded Palestinians to return home and for others to leave after five days of closure. Egyptian authorities ordered the passage closed last Friday, following lethal attacks on Egyptian security forces in the northern Sinai.
The Rafah crossing is the only open air gateway into an Arab country for the estimated 1.7 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. They can also cross into Israel at two points along the border.
(See also Will Hamas Be Next? by Khaled Abu Toameh.)