Hamas tries to have its cake and eat it

Hamas is establishing its control in Gaza and turning itself into an 'address'. Until now, Israel has not related to Hamas as being in charge of the Strip, thus allowing the movement to abstain from the responsibility deriving from its control.
On August 9th, YNET published a report stating that in addition to its new intelligence unit and recent efforts to enlist more activists to its ranks, Hamas is working towards building a naval defense force. It was also reported that Hamas has been housing its operatives in what used to be Fatah's territory before the Gaza 'coup'.

These recent actions by Hamas indicate its efforts to establish its authority and demonstrate its full control over Gaza to Fatah, Israel and the international community. So far, Hamas is reshaping the reality and creating new facts on the ground so as to force Abu-Mazen "to accept the new reality" when negotiations for reunification between the factions resumes.

The consolidation of Hamas' control in Gaza also sends out a signal to Israel and the Fayyad government that any decisions agreed during peace talks regarding Gaza must either take Hamas into account or be rendered irrelevant.

Until now, Israel has not recognized Hamas as the 'address' in Gaza: Israeli actions against the Qassam launchers have been pinpointed - against the actual perpetrators - rather than against Hamas' leadership and its senior commanders. Hamas has thus managed to gain control in Gaza while abstaining from the responsibility attached to it.

Accordingly, Israel should update its current policies vis-à-vis Hamas to a new strategy wherein Hamas is considered to be the sovereign political and military 'address' in Gaza. Such a policy would place Hamas in front of a 'corridor of difficult decisions'. Namely, Hamas would be confronted with the burden and duties of being the ruler in Gaza on the one hand with its ideology permitting the daily firing of Qassam rockets on the other. Potentially, this policy could drive a wedge between the moderates and the extremists inside the Hamas movement.

Sources

Ali Waked, YNET, 9.8.07, full article.