Photo Credit: Jamal Awad/Flash90
Hamas supporters wave Hamas flags on the Temple Mount. May 7, 2021

A source in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) security forces estimates that Hamas will prevent a significant military escalation in the Gaza Strip as much as possible but will try to ignite the violence in eastern Jerusalem, in the hope that it will ignite the violence throughout Judea and Samaria.

“Hamas is enjoying a series of reliefs in the Gaza Strip, while its people operate within the Palestinian Authority and it refrains from accepting responsibility for terrorist incidents,” the PA security source told TPS.

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A Fatah source estimates that Hamas will avoid a significant escalation from the Gaza Strip, including missile and rocket fire, at least until after the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday, because it is enjoying its significant success in the eastern Jerusalem area, where there is a wave of sympathy for it.

A Hamas operative in the PA told TPS Sunday that “Hamas has a strong interest in the expanding popular protest and the leadership believes that firing missiles from the Gaza Strip will harm the development of the protest and even lead Israel to a counter-reaction within the Gaza Strip, contrary to Hamas’ interest.”

“Hamas is trying to formulate another method of struggle against Israel to support the residents of Jerusalem,” the Hamas operative said.

It seems that in recent days Hamas has managed to send a message to the Arab street that while PA head Mahmoud Abbas is cooperating with Israel in capturing the terrorist who carried out the deadly attack at the Tapuach Junction last week, Hamas is standing with the street and defending the most important issue, the al-Aqsa mosques.

On Saturday night, Abbas broadcast messages of support for the Arab rioters in Jerusalem. Hamas says that this came about due to the fear that the street will move to support Hamas while the PA is absent from it and is not a partner in defending Jerusalem.

In the east of the city, it is claimed that the demonstrations in support of Hamas have expanded because Hizb al-Tahrir activists, the Islamist extremists who have great power, also expressed support for Hamas’ moves around the mosques.

Meanwhile, it appears that Fatah in eastern Jerusalem is trying to take control of the events and lead them after disappearing almost completely from the demonstrators at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. A Fatah source says the organization has almost completely disappeared from the arena and left it to Hamas. In recent days, Fatah flags have not been seen in the violent events while Hamas’ green flags were dominant.

14 of Fatah’s leaders in eastern Jerusalem were arrested over the weekend by the police, including Shadi Matur, a Fatah leader.

A security source in the PA adds that Matur enjoys special financial support on behalf of Colonel Majed Faraj, the head of PA intelligence.

The Fatah Central Committee yesterday stressed “Jerusalem is an element of unity for all Palestinians and a scene of confrontation with the occupation” and expressed support for “the continued mass uprising against the occupation forces, settlers and their terrorist organizations operating with the support of the right and the fascist Israeli government.”

“Fatah calls on the Palestinian public to increase the rate of confrontation in the coming hours at the points of friction and on the roads,” it said.

But the fear in Ramallah seems justified. “The leadership in Ramallah has learned an important lesson from recent events in which people in eastern Jerusalem prove that they are braver than it,” a Palestinian Authority commentator told TPS.

“The leadership, which decided to give up polling in the east of the city and chose not to fight in Israel, now understands that young people in the east do not view it as a legitimate factor, “he said.

Hamas commentators incite against Abbas and claim on social media that “the Palestinian Authority feared that a confrontation with Israel in the current period would lead to a halt in tax money to its coffers, and chose security coordination over Jerusalem, but in Jerusalem, they decided to re-teach Abu Mazen a lesson in the struggle against Israel.”

Over the weekend, Hamas made sure to set clear boundaries for the current conflict and activated the various “night attrition units” on the southern border fence.

However, various sources estimate that the organization will not be able to restrain itself for a long time, especially when the pressure from eastern Jerusalem increases. The prevailing assessment now is that if Israel’s flag parade on Jerusalem Day on Monday takes place inside the eastern part of the city, Hamas will raise its response threshold.

A Muslim cleric from the east of the city, a former Waqf official, expressed grave concern about recent developments and told TPS that “Jordan is being pushed out of the holy mountain and the Waqf is becoming a maintenance organization while Hamas alongside Islamic organizations takes over the city and holy sites.”

“Abu Mazen and Netanyahu are trying to save their skin and secure another term for themselves, but eastern Jerusalem is approaching a religious war,” the Muslim cleric warned.

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Baruch reports on Arab affairs for TPS.