It is under pressure, however, from smaller militant groups in Gaza to prove it continues to uphold its armed resistance to Israel, and it sometimes joins the hostilities.
The coastal strip is home to numerous militant groups, including murky al-Qaida-inspired organizations that do not answer to Hamas. Gaza has also been flooded with weapons in recent years, many of them believed to have been smuggled from northern Africa and into Gaza through tunnels under the Egyptian border.
Barzak reported from Gaza City. Additional reporting from Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah and Lauren E. Bohn in Jerusalem.