Interesting dispatch from Gaza City from Edmund Sanders in the LA Times:
Hamas, the Palestinian faction viewed by many in the West as a nest of terrorists and Islamic hard-liners, is battling a curious new epithet: moderate.
Fifteen months after a punishing Israeli offensive failed to dislodge Hamas from power in the Gaza Strip, rival resistance groups and some former supporters say the organization has become too political, too secular and too soft.
“People in the street say Hamas has changed,” said Abu Ahmed, spokesman for the military wing of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian armed group in Gaza that complained recently that Hamas had arrested four of its militants as they tried to attack Israeli soldiers near the border. “They’re paying a price for that. People need to know that Hamas is still committed to the resistance.”
I’ll take that as evidence that more efforts should have been made to engage Hamas’ leadership, rather than the pursuit of this isolation strategy. Leaders of movements tend to find it to be in their interest to moderate in exchange for a slice of meaningful power. The US-Israeli concept has been that if we act in a punitive way toward Hamas-controlled Gaza, that Palestinian opinion will magically become more moderate but the real consequences are likely to be the reverse.