Despite setbacks, Hamas’ grip on Gaza has never been tighter

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza’s Hamas rulers over the weekend marked a year of bloody, weekly protests at the frontier that have failed to break the Israeli blockade.

Rocket attacks brought a wave of Israeli airstrikes and unprecedented protests broke out against the Islamic militants’ increasingly unpopular rule.

And yet Hamas’ control over Gaza is tighter than ever.

It has been strengthened by an unlikely overlap of interests with Israel’s right-wing government. Neither wants to see an independent state established in all the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, as the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And Hamas’ refusal to give up power — the asking price of its West Bank-based Palestinian rival for reconciliation — aligns with Israel’s long-standing policy of maintaining a separation between the West Bank and Gaza.

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