Is Muhammad Dahlan Trying to Integrate into the New Government in Gaza?

In the coming days, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will initiate a maritime logistics operation to transfer humanitarian aid from Cyprus to the northern Gaza Strip, aiming to significantly increase the food supply in the region. Mohamed Dahlan, a senior member of Fatah, has been entrusted with overseeing this operation on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, with coordination also taking place with the Hamas movement.


Dahlan, often referred to as the Palestinian “Phoenix,” was expelled from the Fatah movement in 2011 by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas due to allegations of murder and corruption.

Now, he finds himself in the spotlight once again, spearheading the delivery of humanitarian aid by sea from the UAE to Gaza.

While Dahlan, now a successful businessman residing in Abu Dhabi, denies any interest in participating in Gaza’s future government, asserting his focus solely on aiding Gazan residents during the conflict, the Palestinian Authority (PA) remains wary of his activities.

According to a senior PA official, Dahlan is perceived as attempting to exploit the conflict to bypass the PA and position himself as a leading contender in the succession battle to replace Mahmoud Abbas.

Sources within the Fatah movement suggest that the PA Chairman views Dahlan’s extensive involvement in the maritime aid operation as an attempt to establish himself as the de facto ruler of Gaza post-conflict, especially given Israel’s opposition to the PA’s return to the region.

Israel opposes the PA’s control over Gaza, citing concerns over terrorism, the PA’s payment of salaries to terrorists, and its incitement against Israel in education and media.

Dahlan, hailing from the Khan Yunis refugee camp like Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar and Muhammad Def, enjoys popularity among Gazan residents.

Recently, he visited Doha to meet with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian aid from the UAE to Gaza.

Since his expulsion from Fatah, Dahlan has maintained cordial relations with Hamas, with his new political faction, the “reformist faction,” gaining approval to operate in Gaza.

Israel has endorsed the UAE’s aid operation for Gaza.

As part of this effort, operations coordinators Major General Rasan Aliyan and Avi Gil, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s military secretary, visited the UAE last week.

The UAE will establish a maritime route from Cyprus to a beach in northern Gaza, aiming to increase the flow of humanitarian aid, which has been hindered by armed Hamas militants looting aid trucks entering Gaza from Egypt.

While Egypt-inspected trucks undergo a security clearance process by Israel to prevent arms smuggling to Hamas, resulting in delays, Israel remains committed to ensuring security checks.

Several UAE vessels stationed in Cyprus await the arrival of humanitarian supplies.

These supplies will be loaded onto the vessels and later transferred to smaller vessels for delivery to the Gaza coast, facilitated by shallow Gaza shores.

Israel will conduct security checks on the shipments in Cyprus, and the Israeli navy will provide security escort to the UAE vessels until they reach the Gaza coast.

This initiative may mark the initial phase of President Biden’s plan to construct a large floating pier to facilitate humanitarian aid flow to Gaza.

However, the construction timeline, estimated by the US military to span several weeks, remains uncertain.

President Biden has expressed frustration with Israel’s aid policy towards Gaza, leading the US to airdrop humanitarian supplies in the region.

However, recognizing the limitations of this approach, Biden seeks to enhance aid delivery through naval means to address Gaza’s food shortages.

Moreover, Biden’s decision aligns with efforts to appease progressive and Arab communities within the Democratic Party who criticize his support for Israel, thereby bolstering his reelection prospects.

Israeli security officials anticipate a significant increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza through this initiative.

However, they acknowledge that it may not deter Hamas from forcefully seizing control within the strip itself.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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