Palestinian online campaign blames Hamas for Gaza misery

Hamas supporters claimed that the Palestinian Authority and Israel were behind the new campaign. 

 A boy holds a toy weapon as Palestinians take part in a rally marking the 34th anniversary of Hamas' founding, in the northern Gaza Strip December 10, 2021.  (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
A boy holds a toy weapon as Palestinians take part in a rally marking the 34th anniversary of Hamas' founding, in the northern Gaza Strip December 10, 2021.
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)

Palestinians have launched a new social media campaign in protest of Hamas’s rule of the Gaza Strip, holding the Islamist movement responsible for poverty, unemployment and harsh economic and humanitarian conditions.

Hamas supporters claimed that the Palestinian Authority and Israel were behind the new campaign.

The supporters launched counter campaigns in which they accused the PA of financial and administrative corruption, collaboration with Israel and imposing financial and economic sanctions on the coastal enclave as part of an attempt to instigate a revolt against Hamas.

They also defended Hamas by arguing that it had “kidnapped” the Gaza Strip from the corrupt PA leadership, adding that the movement continues to enjoy large support among the Palestinian public.

The anti-Hamas campaign, titled “They Hijacked Gaza,” came following a report by the Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, which said that “about 1.5 million of the Gaza Strip’s total population of 2.3 million have become impoverished due to the Israeli blockade and restrictions imposed since 2006.”

 A picture taken with a drone shows Hamas supporters taking part in a protest against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to postpone planned parliamentary elections, in the northern Gaza Strip April 30, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM) A picture taken with a drone shows Hamas supporters taking part in a protest against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to postpone planned parliamentary elections, in the northern Gaza Strip April 30, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

The report pointed out that poverty has risen sharply, from 40% in 2005 to 69% in 2021.

But several anti-Hamas activists rejected the attempt to shift the blame onto Israel. They also condemned Hamas for its alliance with Iran and other Iranian-backed terrorist groups in the Middle East.

“Who said that the [Israeli] occupation is the reason for the situation in Gaza?” asked Hosam Elmadhon, a resident of the Strip. “Does the occupation impose taxes? Is the occupation collecting $30 million in taxes on [cigarettes and tobacco] every month? Is the occupation responsible for the [emigration] of 60,000 young people?”

In another post, Elmadhon wrote, “A question for the leadership of Gaza, which trades in our siege and suffering: How did the siege that made me poor make you wealthy? How did the siege that forced many young people to emigrate give you [foreign] citizenship and enable you to live in mansions and hotels? How did the siege that starved our children allow your children to live in prosperity? How did the siege that cut off electricity from my family allow you to light your house for 24 hours?”

“Hamas’s failed policy has made half the world hate us, and sympathy with our cause has declined,” lamented social media user Khaled Noor. “Hamas wants to appease Iran, which has destroyed Arab cities.”

He was referring to Iran’s direct and indirect involvement in the civil wars of Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

THE LAST anti-Hamas campaign, launched in 2019 under the title “We Want To Live!” was ruthlessly suppressed by Hamas security forces with the help of the movement’s armed wing, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades. Hundreds of Palestinian protesters were physically assaulted or detained, including human rights and political activists who took to the streets to protest against the terrorist group.

The campaign was organized in protest of taxes imposed by Hamas on the residents of the Gaza Strip, as well as the high rate of unemployment and poverty and the high cost of living.

In 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary election, triggering a crisis with its rivals in the Fatah faction headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

A year later, Hamas staged a violent coup, overthrowing the PA and seizing full control of the Strip.

The latest campaign came amid ongoing tensions between Hamas and Fatah and the failure of Arab efforts to solve the dispute between the two rival parties.

Earlier this month, Fatah and Hamas representatives were invited by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for “reconciliation” talks.

Many Palestinians, however, said they did not expect a breakthrough in the discussions due to the wide gap between the rival sides.

HAMAS OFFICIALS over the weekend accused the PA of continuing its security crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank and called for the immediate release of all those being held in Palestinian detention.

The campaign, which began four days ago, came as the body of 14-year-old Osama Arafat Sarsak –who went missing while collecting aluminum, copper and plastic – was found at a landfill site near Gaza City.

Some Palestinians claimed that Sarsak was hit by a bulldozer belonging to the Gaza City municipality.

A Palestinian human rights organization said an autopsy showed that Sarsak had died of asphyxia. Hamas said it has launched an investigation into the incident, which sparked widespread anger throughout the coastal enclave.

“Every tweet written on the hashtag ‘They Hijacked Gaza’ is a tale of suffering that has been going on for 15 years,” Rehab Adel wrote on Twitter. “Gaza tried all kinds of death. Isn’t it time to try the taste of life, even for once?”

Bassem Othman, a Palestinian engineer, complained: “All over the world, taxes are imposed in return for services that the citizen receives.” Under Hamas, he noted, “even those who are unemployed are being asked to pay taxes.”

Freelance photojournalist and activist Walid Mahmoud commented, “The Islamic movement [Hamas] has failed to manage the crises in Gaza. It has failed to create any solution for the residents of Gaza, and this is something no sane person can deny. Shouldn’t that resident be given the right to speak out and talk about his/her experience under Islamic rule?”

Bisan Issam, another Gaza resident, tweeted, “Fifteen years ago, two million people were kidnapped on the land of the Gaza Strip by the [Hamas] gang of Change and Reform [Hamas’s parliamentary electoral list in 2006].

“The lives and dreams of an entire generation were lost, crushed by despair and lack of resourcefulness. They are now ready to endanger their lives to escape the constant death in Gaza.”