Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Hamas Has Become “Hamases”

There is now talk of the Palestinian cabinet reshuffle being part of the effort to prepare for its governance of Gaza following the war, which President Biden - while eating ice cream - said is nearing its end as negotiations for a ceasefire intensify.

Despite everything being reported in the media regarding figures associated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, I honestly do not believe that Hamas will be ready to give up control of Gaza so easily, especially given the contradictory statements that different Hamas officials have given throughout the war.

Yesterday, our newspaper reported, based on conversations with two sources in Ramallah and Gaza, that the Palestinian government reshuffle came after a preliminary understanding was reached with Hamas. The sources suggested that Hamas does not want to continue governing the Gaza Strip after the war and that it is ready to accept a government of technocrats.

The newspaper also quoted an official in Ramallah as saying, "They (Hamas) can no longer govern Gaza, and they are well aware of that. They don't want (to govern it)." Despite all these statements, I say: "I don't believe them," not out of pessimism, but because Hamas has become "Hamases." Hamas is not a single entity anymore.

One Hamas is in the trenches in Gaza. It is led by Yahya Sinwar, with whom it is said that communication has been cut off. Another Hamas, led by Khaled Mashal and Ismail Haniyeh, is in Qatar. Osama Hamdan leads another in Lebanon, and others are in Türkiye, to say nothing about those in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

I am convinced that there are other hidden leaders. They will emerge later because they believe that now is not the right time to do so. They are hedging, waiting to see what will happen in Gaza and what will become of Sinwar and those around him, especially since many Hamas members are awaiting their share of the inheritance following the exit of Sinwar, a dead man walking.

Let us also not forget that there are followers of Iran, old and new, awaiting their opportunity. In addition, Tehran will not easily accept losing its front in Gaza, nor will Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Türkiye be pleased with losing this front, which they have long milked for populist ends.

When I say I don't believe that Hamas will easily hand over control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, I do not mean to imply that the movement is strong. I say that because it had always been divided over old and well-known disagreements with Sinwar. The war in Gaza has aggravated these divisions, not its weakness, as disruption is easier.

Accordingly, Hamas might yield to the storm, albeit rhetorically, but I doubt that it will easily be made to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority, especially after the recent back and forth between Hamas and the PA in the media, with both sides blaming and raising doubts about the other.

Hamas could be trying to quell the anger in Gaza now to ensure a ceasefire and that Israel withdraws from Gaza, and that the Strip can be rebuilt - neither is on the cards so long as Hamas remains in power.

Above all, Israel is not serious about a ceasefire. Indeed, Israeli sources told the American broadcast, ABC, that Netanyahu "was surprised by President Biden's announcement that a ceasefire in Gaza is imminent."

Moreover, Netanyahu is not taking serious positions. He seeks to extend his time in office, avoid prison, and may be waiting for an opportunity to open a front in Lebanon rather than agreements and solutions. This is the reality. It may be disappointing, but the facts will become clear in time.