Israel Banks on a Fence
The Future of Palestine
Israel's New Strategy
Can Hamas Be Tamed?
The Hamas Conundrum
The Untamed Shrew, Four Years On
Letter From Gaza: Hamas the Opportunist
Hamas’ Tunnel Diplomacy
How to Handle Hamas
The Perils of Ignoring Gaza's Leadership
The Palestinian Spring?
Hamas and Fatah Have Unified, but not Yet Reconciled
Israel's Gamble in Gaza
The Perils of Operation Pillar of Defense
Why The Group Thought It Could Get Away With Striking Israel
Where Hamas Goes From Here
Time To Regroup or Rupture
Hamas' Not-So-Secret Weapon
Meet Salah al-Arouri, the Man Behind the Group's Kidnapping Strategy
Why Cairo Can't Broker a Ceasefire Between Israel and Hamas
The Near Enemy
Why the Real Threat to Israel Isn't in Gaza
Bibi's First War
Why Benjamin Netanyahu Has Never Liked Military Conflict
How Hamas Won
Israel's Tactical Success and Strategic Failure
Gaza's Bottle Rockets
Why Hamas' Arsenal Wasn't Worth a War
Notes From the Underground
The Long History of Tunnel Warfare
Why Withdrawing From the West Bank Would Make Israel Safer
Why Israel Should Stop Pushing Hamas to Give Up Its Weapons
Is Trusteeship for Palestine the Answer?
The thousands of traders who swarm the once destitute corridor that marks Gaza’s southernmost boundary with Egypt call the area the “Rafah free zone.” They spend most of their day in hot, damp passageways a hundred feet underground, dragging rubber sleighs loaded with goods and then winching them to the surface.
Rafah long languished as a provincial backwater in the claustrophobic Gaza Strip, a clannish and rural hinterland to Gaza City’s bustling and cosmopolitan downtown. A few families controlled the limited tunnel trade that existed for decades. And even in the days when Gaza’s legal overland trade flourished, weapons and contraband were still smuggled into the Strip underground.
At first, in 2007, Hamas only tolerated the tunnel economy; but it began to embrace it the following year, legalizing and regulating subterranean trade. Hamas had found a spontaneous solution to the economic crisis that was threatening its rule of Gaza -- and, in the process, turned expediency into opportunity.
Opportunism as strategy appears to be the group’s new hallmark. When faced with only bad options to deal with the blockade or its status as a diplomatic pariah, Hamas has behaved as if it chose its predicament, leveraging its position into either greater control over Gaza or greater political influence beyond its boundaries. Desperation, in other words, has become an avenue to power.
The snaking tunnels, like Hamas’ contorted diplomatic campaign, grew out of the total isolation the movement faced after it won the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections. Israel and the United States both list Hamas as a terrorist group and immediately boycotted the new Hamas government. In the summer of 2007, Hamas took over Gaza after a quick but bloody clash with U.S.-trained forces from the Fatah faction. Since then, Israel has closed off all but the most basic trade and movement.
In response, Hamas moved to legalize the tunnels, charging licensing fees and opening up the “free zone” to a group of investors who would owe their profits
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