Questions at the top of Hamas leadership

Operation Protective Edge has created a power vacuum in the Hamas leadership, Shlomi Eldar writes for Al Monitor, and political chief Khaled Mashaal is unlikely to survive challenges to his control over the movement from opponents in the coastal enclave.

According to Eldar, Mashaal was intent on continuing the fight until Israel either agreed to his demands or took out Hamas, but eventually was pressured into accepting the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, which did not immediately address any of Hamas’ demands, by Hamas political leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh and political rivals Mahmoud al-Zahar and Mousa Abu Marzouk.

And now, for all of Mashaal’s bravado in internationally televised speeches and interviews, his rivals in Gaza are the ones taking credit for the “victory” and leading celebrations with the people in the coastal enclave.

Meanwhile, al-Zohar has actually become better than Mashaal at his own job — bringing in money, Eldar writes. While the political leadership quarreled with Iran over Syria, al-Zahar maintained his connections in Tehran, garnering donations that he funneled to the military wing.

Eldar adds, however, that the politics could easily end up being a sideshow, as the entity that has gained the most power from this round of fighting is the military wing and its leader Muhammad Deif, who, assuming he is still alive, is the one who will truly decide whether Tuesday’s long-term truce will last.

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