Out of the Palestinian unity deal forged between Hamas and Fatah earlier this month, a new splinter has formed. Hesn is a shadowy Iran-backed jihadist faction in the Gaza Strip. The group’s name is an acronym for Harakat as-Sabeereen Nasran li-Filastin, or “The Movement of the Patient Ones for the Liberation of Palestine.”
Hesn (or hosn) means “fortification” or “bulwark.” The implication is that the traditional Palestinian factions have gone weak in the knees. And for these Iran-backed fighters, one can understand why they believe this is so. The Fatah faction, since Mahmoud Abbas took over in 2005, has disavowed violence against Israel. Hamas, after the fall of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt last year, has been severely weakened – both economically and politically – which has curbed its appetite for violence. And now, after the formation of the unity government, even the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is vacillating between an outright campaign of violence and supporting the current fragile calm in the name of Palestinian nationalism.
Vacuums don’t last long in the Middle East. Hesn’s emergence is a case in point. But it’s too soon to tell whether the group will have an impact. […]