Tunnels of Gaza: Isolation or Escape?

Undoubtedly, Hamas would prefer an open relationship with Cairo. It says it will crack down on its Salafi militants and plug their conduits to Sinai. “More than anyone we seek relations above ground, not below it,” says Zahar, the Hamas leader who sees formal trade ties as the economic counterpart to political recognition. “Once that’s achieved, we will close the tunnels.” But Hamas leaders also flinch from the backlash that would likely come from cutting jihadi conduits, dissolving a business worth hundreds of millions, and joining Israel and Egypt’s anti-jihadi onslaught. Faced with Egyptian demands to crack down on jihadi groups it suspected of perpetrating the August 5 attack, Hamas declared that it had made dozens of arrests, but then quietly released most of the detainees after questioning. Struggling to reconcile both Egypt’s authorities and its own Salafists, Hamas’ leaders have appeared to sit on the fence, leaving both mistrustful of the Gazan leadership.

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