“We want the Jews to come back here, they are better than the Hamas regime,” Gazan youth says in a video.
By Baruch Yedid, TPS
A series of recent events in the Gaza Strip have rekindled protests against Hamas’ rule, but for now, protests are limited to the social networks.
A new tax, at 16%, which has already been dubbed the “Hamas tax,” is provoking much anger in the Gaza Strip.
The tax was imposed on a variety of goods coming from the Palestinian Authority (PA), including mineral water, chips, and soft drinks, and is intended to be a response to taxes levied by the PA on goods coming from the Gaza Strip.
The Strip is also experiencing serious problems in the field of water supply, drainage of sewage systems, decreased electricity output and a rise in the cost of living, unemployment, cash shortages, and the damage suffered by the Strip in Operation Guardian of the Walls a year ago, which is still evident in the streets.
The severe violence by the Hamas regime is also provoking anger in the streets. Sources in the Gaza Strip say that Hamas security personnel beat members of the Shurab and Bakr families several days ago, some of whom were wounded and taken to hospital.
The decision of the Hamas leadership to ally with Iran, a decision that found expression in the hanging of posters and pictures of extremist Shiite regime leaders, is also being criticized by residents of the Gaza Strip, and sources in the Strip repeatedly claim that although severely repressed, there is protest beneath the surface.
All these issues are being used by the protest movement, “Want to Live,” which is again attacking the Hamas regime, from afar.
‘We want the Jews to come back here’
The phenomenon of protest against Hamas is also expanding within the Gaza Strip. Many young people are writing on social media under false names, but others also dare to be photographed openly and upload videos to Twitter and even write harsh things against Hamas.
Hassam al-Madhoun, a resident of the Gaza Strip, wrote, “Who said that the Israeli occupation is to blame for the situation in Gaza? Is the occupation taxing? Is the occupation charging $30 million a month for cigarettes and tobacco? Is the occupation responsible for the immigration of 60,000 young people?”
Gazan youths are openly photographed demanding money and work from the Hamas regime. In one of the videos, young people are seen standing near full stalls complaining that no one can afford to buy even the cheapest vegetables.
Another Gazan youth, photographed with his face exposed, said that he stays in mosques in Gaza after Friday prayers until late because he cannot manage feeding his younger brothers. “I suffocate, I give up food to feed my brothers, but I have no way to help and nothing to do, and I stay in the mosque until late so as not to go home.”
In another video, young people photograph Hamas men walking the streets while telling the camera, “We want the Jews to come back here, they are better than the Hamas regime.”
Another wrote in the networks, “Hamas members armed from head to toe did not hesitate to oppose the Gaza residents’ protest and demonstrated greater cruelty than the occupation and even executed Gazan youths.”
‘Hamas has billions of dollars while people in Gaza are starving’
Above all, the civic economic distress in the Gaza Strip is at the center of the renewed protest. The power supply is limited to a few hours daily, after a 60% decrease in power output. The rate of hungry residents is rising, and according to Gazan sources, the poverty rate stands at 70-75%, while unemployment climbed to a level of 65-70%.
There is also a sharp drop of 70% in the marriage registration of young men and women who cannot afford the wedding expenses.
The phenomenon of migration from the Gaza Strip is one of the main reasons for the protest against the Hamas regime. In Gaza, it is claimed that at least 100 young people are being held in prisons in Turkey after being caught trying to immigrate to European countries.
News that often reaches the Gaza Strip about young people who left on the way to Europe and were lost — and a symbolic funeral that was held in the Gaza Strip for one of them — are used by the protest movement, which tried its force in 2019 and was violently suppressed by Hamas.
Al-Madhoun wrote in this regard, “How did the siege of Gaza make you rich and me poor? How does the embargo that forced so many young people to emigrate allow you to live in palaces and hotels? How does the siege that cut off the electricity to my family allow you to light your house for 24 hours?”
Social activist Amer Balusha, the leader of the protest, wrote, “Hamas has billions of dollars in investments in many countries, while people in Gaza are starving and roaming in search of work.”
‘We are the victims’
Many students are also riding the wave of “silent protest.” Sources in Gaza say that in recent years, 240,000 young Gazans, university graduates, have joined the unemployment circle. In the Gaza Strip today, 70% of the population is under the age of 25 and this is one of the youngest populations in the world, which indicates the severity of the problem in the coming years as well.
The protest against the alliance between the Hamas leadership and the Shiite Iranian regime also finds expression on social media. Residents of the Gaza Strip condemn Hamas for accepting dictates from Iran to go to war with Israel, while they, the residents of the Gaza Strip pay the price. Videos coming out against this phenomenon are very common on social media.
“The directives come from Khamenei, and the Hamas leaders are carrying them out, and we are the victim,” said Nasser Tzurani, a young local, to the camera. “I wish the Iranians would really support us as much as they support Houthis from Yemen, with unmanned aerial vehicles or missiles, but the ayatollahs’ regime only settles for bribe payments to Hamas leaders.”
In January this year, young Gazan leaders, led by five social activists who had left the Strip for Europe, launched an electronic event titled “Kidnapped Gaza” and severely attacked Hamas’ rule. The event took place against the background of the severe winter hardships that the residents of the Strip endured.
The initiative was led by lawyer Amer Balusha, who fled to Turkey, and Muhammad Nashwan, a young Gazan man who moved to Belgium. Two years ago, TPS’ investigation revealed that more than 70,000 Palestinians live in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, 70% of them former residents of the Gaza Strip.
Testimonies of young Gazans show that Hamas operates the “Shabiha police,” the notorious government thugs from Syria. Young Gazans say that the Shabiha operatives “act as part of Hamas’ security apparatus, sometimes dressed in black and sometimes assimilated into the protesting crowd in civilian clothes.”
One of the senior members of the “Shabiha” is Hidra Akal, a member of Hamas’ internal security apparatus, who was accused several years ago of collaborating with the Israeli Shin Bet.
Some in Gaza speculate that after receiving a pardon or because there is no factual proof that he was cooperating with Israel, Akal is trying to show loyalty to the Hamas government through cruelty to the demonstrators.
Testimony from Gaza shows that Hamas’ “Shabiha” members arrested Sheikh Majdi Ma’rabi, a local cleric who strongly opposes the Iranian government, after tearing up a picture of the IRGC General Qassem Suleimani hung on the city streets of Gaza.
Embarrassment for Hamas
The welfare life of senior Hamas figures and their families is fueling anger in the Gaza Strip, and the past two years have revealed a number of embarrassing issues for Hamas.
Hamas is aware of the protests developing on the street.
In 2019, Hamas decided to brutally suppress the demonstrations, which has led many young people to flee the Gaza Strip or leave it and hold the protest from European capitals.
Hamas supporters repeatedly claim on social media that the “Want to Live” movement is a coercive creation of the Israeli intelligence system and works in coordination with the PA intelligence services from Ramallah.
Young Hamas supporters who responded to the “Kidnapped Gaza” campaign oppose the popular protest, saying, “Since the abduction of Gaza, it is the only leadership facing the Israeli occupation and is the strongest center of resistance, while others have decided to give up Palestinian independence and al-Aqsa.”
“We are in a war,” Hamas activists write on the networks,” this is not the time for a comfortable life and not for criticism. ”
Wael Abu Omar, a supporter of Hamas, wrote on Twitter: “They kidnapped Gaza and turned it into a center of resistance and defiance in the face of the great power in the world. They kidnapped it and it became a center of attack in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and occupied Jerusalem. Gaza became the defender of Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah.”