The pro-missile faction was identified as including Hamas political
bureau chief Khaled Masha'al, based in Syria. Masha'al was said to have been
opposed by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who has not ruled out an
eventual settlement with Israel.
"As such, Hamas is now torn between some of the political echelon's
preference for restraint and other political and military leaders'
preference for pre-Gaza War levels of bombarding Israel," the report said.
Masha'al's pro-missile policy has been engineered by Hamas military
chief Ahmed Jabari. Jabari was said to be closely linked to Iran's Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Ms. Helfont, who has served as an instructor for the U.S. military in
Afghanistan and Iraq, said the division explains Hamas's inconsistency. She
cited arguments between the network in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as
well as between Hamas and the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad.
"In effect, Hamas's vaunted ideological, organizational, and strategic
unity seems a thing of the past," the report said. "It is this inconsistency
that has, to a large extent, led to its weakened position."
The report raised the prospect that Hamas's division could be exploited
to focus on the faction prepared to negotiate a peace settlement. Ms.
Helfont cited Palestinian
opposition to the Fatah peace process with Israel in 1993.
"It has been possible to engage one faction of the Palestinian people to
conduct peace talks," the report said. "Therefore, it may also be possible
to engage only one faction within Hamas so as to advance the peace process."
Ms. Helfont said, however, that Hamas has also been restraining other
Palestinian militias from attacking Israel from the Gaza Strip. At the same
time, Hamas elements have sought to provoke Egypt into a conflict with
Israel. Hamas has also failed to reconcile with Egypt, Jordan and the
Palestinian Authority because of the Islamic movement's alliance with Iran.
"Having given these groups the go-ahead to operate on a small scale,
Hamas's military wing is also restraining them to a degree so as not to force
the Israeli Defense Force back into Gaza," the report said. "One is
therefore left to decide whether these attacks are business as usual or an
attempt by Hamas to be heard while the negotiations marched on without it."