Several residents of the Gaza Strip on Monday accused Hamas of dragging the Palestinians into another “destructive war” with Israel.
They also said that the current tensions serve the interests of Hamas, especially in wake of the recent protests against economic hardship throughout the Gaza Strip.
In telephone interviews with The Jerusalem Post, residents of the Gaza Strip said that they were extremely worried that another war with Israel would lead to a “major catastrophe.”
They said that many residents believe that Hamas was deliberately provoking so as to divert attention from its problems at home.
Hamas has faced sharp criticism from many Palestinians for its brutal crackdown on Gazans who took to the streets to protest the high cost of living and soaring unemployment in the coastal enclave.
“A war with Israel will help Hamas divert attention from the growing anger towards its repressive measures,” said Ibrahim Abu al-Naja, a social worker from Gaza City. “The Hamas leaders are holding our people hostage. Most people here don’t want another war.”
Palestinian political analyst Majdi Hamdan said that the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip were again paying a heavy price for the “foolish actions and policies” of the Hamas rulers.
“Hamas needs to admit that it has failed in running the affairs of the Palestinians living under its rule,” he told the Post. “Even if the rocket was fired at Israel accidentally, Hamas still bears responsibility as the de facto administration in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamdan predicted that Hamas’s failure to prevent the launching of rockets at Israel will also ruin the movement’s relations with Egypt, whose intelligence officials have been working hard in recent months to avoid a fourth war between Gaza and Israel.
Other Palestinians predicted that a war with Israel would earn Hamas additional sympathy among Palestinians, who will see it as a victim of yet another Israeli “aggression.”
A major Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip will also further undermine the credibility of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, who are accused by Hamas and other Palestinians of being in “collusion” with Israel and the US administration to remove Hamas from power, they said.
“If Hamas remains in power after the current military confrontation, its leaders will again declare victory over the Zionist enemy,” said Nabil Shehadeh, a Fatah activist from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. “This will be bad for President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, who want to see an end to Hamas’s rule over the Gaza Strip.”
Some Palestinians said it was premature to talk about the downfall of Hamas.
“No one knows how this is going to end,” said a veteran Palestinian journalist from Gaza City.
“Even if Israel kills some of the Hamas leaders, the movement has thousands of security officers and gunmen belonging to its armed wing, the Izaddin al-Qassam Brigades. They will do everything to prevent the Palestinian Authority from returning to the Gaza Strip. People here may be very angry with Hamas, but when Hamas is attacked by Israel, they will side with Hamas.”
Sources in the Gaza Strip said that most of the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have gone into hiding out of fear of being targeted by Israel in response to the Monday morning rocket attack on the Kfar Saba region, which injured seven people. “Some of them have left their homes together with their families,” the sources said.
Hamas, meanwhile, issued instructions to the residents of the Gaza Strip not to interact with Israeli social media sites that are “waging psychological warfare on the Palestinians.”
Hamas urged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip not to answer “suspicious phone calls,” claiming that the Israeli security forces were trying to gather information about what’s happening in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas also appealed to Palestinians to report any “suspicious movements” in the Gaza Strip to its security forces.