Hamas terror diverts attention from pandemic, poverty in Gaza

Six rockets fired at Israel as Hamas locks down Gaza due to virus outbreak.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Terrorists in Gaza fired six rockets at Israel before dawn on Friday despite the Gaza Strip being under a lockdown imposed by Hamas due to a coronavirus outbreak.

In response, the IDF spokesperson’s office said Israel air force planes struck Hamas targets, warning “the terrorist organization Hamas bears responsibility for what is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip, and will bear the consequences of terrorist acts against Israeli citizens.”

The rocket attack coupled with scores of incendiary balloons launched at Israel daily have diverted some of the attention away from the economic and health crisis Hamas is facing in Gaza.

Since seizing power in Gaza 13 years ago in a military coup, Hamas has ruled over the enclave with a focus on its attempts to arm itself for a military victory over Israel.

With Israel and Egypt imposing severe border restrictions in a bid to keep weapons out, Hamas has preferred to let the Gaza economy collapse, and for the past several years has been dependent on monthly cash transfers from Qatar to keep a lid on public anger.

Those border restrictions had helped keep the corona pandemic out of Gaza, as quarantining prevented an outbreak. But earlier this week several cases were detected, and the military government imposed a lockdown to try and prevent a massive community spread of the disease.

That lockdown did not prompt Hamas to stop the rocket fire or launching of hundreds of incendiary balloons over the past few days, drawing the attention of the UN special representative to the Middle East, who has been trying unsuccessfully for years to mediate between Israel and Hamas.

“The situation in and around Gaza is rapidly deteriorating,” tweeted Nickolay Mladenov, adding that “life inside the Strip is unbearable.”

“With a failing health system, no electricity, unemployment soaring, continuing militant activity & closures, I am VERY concerned that escalation is imminent,” Mladenov said.

Mladenov called on Hamas to “immediately stop the launching of projectiles, [and] incendiary devices.”

Frustrated after 13 years of Hamas rule that has destroyed Gaza’s economy and left more than half the population unemployed, Gazans were angered earlier this week when electricity suddenly came back on after Hamas claimed it had run out of fuel for the one power plant there.

However, Gaza is also supplied with electricity from the Egyptian and Israeli electrical grids that together with the Gaza plant there is not enough for 24-hour service. Gazans are used to only four to eight hours of electricity daily, but the power had apparently been totally shut off as a bargaining tactic to lower some border restrictions with Israel.

When that didn’t work, the power got switched on again, and Gazans returned to getting about four hours of electricity a day in the August heat. In a widely circulated video, one Gazan ranted at the Hamas government for its 13 years of rule that had managed to provide the people with only four hours of electricity and a monthly $100 handout from the Qataris.

Gaza resident Ahmed Eissa makes only $7, but due to the pandemic lockdown he is unable to leave his house and can’t work.

“I don’t know what or how we will eat tomorrow,” Eissa told The Associated Press, complaining that he has not seen a serious plan from the Palestinian government on how to cope with the crisis.