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Nation

Enemies Israel, Hamas in quiet alliance to preserve cease-fire calm

| Sunday, June 21, 2015, 8:54 p.m.

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Nearly a year after a devastating war, Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers appear to have formed an unspoken alliance in a common battle against the shared threat of jihadis aligned with the Islamic State group.

Although Israel and Hamas remain arch-enemies, both have an interest in preserving an uneasy calm that has prevailed since the fighting ended in a cease-fire in August — a stalemate that is largely the result of a lack of options on either side.

More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed in last year's fighting, according to Palestinian officials, and Hamas suffered heavy losses. It is isolated internationally, Gaza's economy is in tatters, and reconstruction efforts have lagged. A renewal of hostilities would be devastating for Gaza's 1.8 million people.

On the Israeli side, 73 people, including 67 soldiers, were killed in last year's fighting. Hamas has survived three wars, and the cost of toppling the group would be extremely high, so Israel appears content to contain Hamas and keep things quiet.

Hamas officials said efforts are under way, through Qatari mediators, to work out a long-term cease-fire. A deal could call for Israel to ease a stifling blockade on Gaza in exchange for Hamas pledges to disarm .

In the short run, the biggest threat to the quiet is a small but growing number of extremists in Gaza inspired by the Islamic State, who have fired rockets across the heavily guarded frontier in an attempt to undermine Hamas.

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