Palestinian Islamist movement celebrates 22nd birthday amid drop in rocket attacks and prisoner negotiations but vowing never to recognise Israel
Rory McCarthy in Gaza City
guardian.co.uk, Monday 28 December 2009
"....For Hamas, the war itself has brought other changes. Despite Haniyeh's constant talk of resistance, the number of rockets fired out of Gaza has fallen dramatically this year. Hamas has announced that nearly all factions have agreed to halt the rockets and one Israeli paper reported this month that rocket fire from Gaza was down 90% compared to last year. Haniyeh himself hinted at this new stance in his anniversary speech. "The resistance is strong and hitting everywhere, but we are more wise and more managed," he said.
Mustapha Sawaf, a former editor of a Hamas newspaper, said this was simply a decision made "in the national interest". Others put it differently.
"When Hamas entered the Palestinian legislative elections their slogan was a mix of resistance and politics. It has completely failed," said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at al-Azhar University in Gaza. "Hamas knows resistance is going to cost them their regime in the Gaza strip."
As Hamas has moderated its militancy so it has faced internal challenges from hardliners in Gaza demanding the movement take a tougher stance and institute a more rigidly Islamic code. Hamas has tried to reimpose control, often earning the rebukes of fellow Gazans....."