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Are There Alternatives to Hamas Rule in Gaza?

Saraya Square, Gaza, May 2017. Badia “Bedouin tribes.” (Pacific Press/ Alamy)

Israel is engaging in talks with clans and tribes in the Gaza Strip that are at odds with Hamas, aiming to secure the shipment of humanitarian aid and potentially delegate security responsibilities for specific areas of Gaza City.

Hamas has vehemently opposed the Israeli initiative, labeling those involved as collaborators and threatening retribution at an appropriate time.

According to sources within the Gaza Strip, Israel has initiated intensive discussions with various clans and tribes to grant them security and administrative control over specific residential areas.

This move is seen as part of Israel’s broader strategy to establish an alternative governing body to the Hamas movement.

The Israeli endeavor aligns with one of the objectives of the conflict, which is to undermine Hamas’s rule. It is consistent with a post-war plan presented by Prime Minister Netanyahu to the Defense Cabinet.

This effort echoes previous attempts, such as those in 1977 when Israel established Palestinian political organizations in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) known as “Village Leagues,” aimed at countering the influence of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

However, these efforts ultimately backfired, with the PLO targeting and weakening these organizations.

Similarly, the United States faced challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan when attempting to establish alternative civilian governments through alliances with local tribes and clans.

Reports suggest that Israel’s current efforts are being spearheaded by IDF General Rasan Aliyan, the coordinator of operations in the territories, who has reached out to clans in Gaza at odds with Hamas.

While some clans have shown willingness to collaborate with Israel following the collapse of Hamas’s rule in Gaza, others have resisted the proposal to establish armed groups to maintain security.

Despite these challenges, Israel is considering equipping these clans with weapons to safeguard humanitarian aid shipments, subject to approval from the United States.

Hamas officials in Gaza view Israel’s actions as an attempt to sow discord and undermine social cohesion and pledge to confront collaborators in the future.

However, the prospect of establishing an alternative government in Gaza raises concerns among senior Israeli security officials, who acknowledge the lack of favorable options.

What Will Change with an Alternative Government?

Any new administration is likely to maintain hostility towards Israel, necessitating strategic engagement with the least antagonistic entity.

Moreover, history suggests that clan-based governance, supported by the IDF, could lead to corruption and security challenges, particularly amidst ongoing conflict with Hamas militants.

The potential for inter-clan conflicts over power and resources, exacerbated by Hamas’s formidable military presence, underscores the complex dynamics at play in Gaza.

Despite internal power struggles, anti-Israel sentiment remains a unifying force among various factions, especially in the aftermath of significant casualties incurred during the conflict.


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