It has been more than 15 years since the US and EU-designated terror group Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, throwing Palestinians with whom they disagreed from rooftops in the process.
Some in the West know already that Hamas and its leaders are Islamist terrorists that seek to destroy everything the West and Israel stand for: democratic values, freedom of speech and the press, and of course, LGBTQ and women’s rights. Sadly, not enough of the world has paid attention to the plight of Gazans at the hands of Hamas.
Now, in an unprecedented series of video testimonies called “Whispered in Gaza,” the entire world can hear the voices of actual Gazans speaking out about what life is like under the terrorist dictatorship in Gaza.
As an Arab Israeli myself, who fought against Hamas in Gaza, it’s no surprise to me to hear these devastating testimonies of what I know Gazans experience under Hamas every day. Yet for years, many outside of Israel have not understood the barbarity and cruelty that Palestinians in Gaza face – not at the hands of Israel, but at the hands of their own tyrannical leaders: Hamas.
It’s hard to ignore the truth when Gazans themselves are speaking out, uncensored. In these clips, you can hear Palestinians sharing for the first time how Hamas steals money from civilians and private businesses, how they crush and imprison any person or group that calls for policy changes, and how, just as in the Islamic Republic of Iran, women are not allowed to sing, dance, or even hold hands with men in public.
The United Nations and its envoys, rapporteurs and investigators rarely comment (if ever) on how Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields in their fight against the Israel Defense Forces, but now that Palestinian civilians are sharing the horrors of living under Hamas, will the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres actually say something? Will the Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, condemn Hamas, or does her anti-Israel obsession make her blind to the suffering of Gazans under the Islamist terror group?
How about the foreign ministries of the UK, France, Germany, and other European countries? Will they take the time to hear the voices of the people of Gaza and listen to the hardships they endure living under Hamas?
The videos expose who Israel is fighting against – not the Palestinian people, but rather a terrorist group that is not just terrorizing Israeli civilians with rockets, but also terrorizing their own people through their daily oppression of women, prohibiting freedom of speech and the right to protest, and infesting Gaza with corruption and exploitation. Hamas controls the people of Gaza, depriving them of basic rights and freedoms.
We, Israeli civilians, and yes, Arab Israelis as well, see this as a direct threat to us. The terrorism and extremism that Hamas and its allies spread throughout the Arab world harms us as Arabs too. When rockets are fired from Gaza, they do not discriminate between Arabs and Jews. In fact, in nearly every round of fighting between Israel and Hamas, Arab Israelis were murdered by Hamas in terror attacks or rocket attacks. Hamas terrorism harms both Israeli Jews and Arabs, and the ideology of Hamas is indoctrinating future generations of Palestinians in Gaza with an irrational, dangerous hatred and lust for violence.
Sadly, many Palestinians are trapped under the brutal rule of Hamas, which is why these testimonies are so powerful and important globally.
In Israel, women are free, hundreds of thousands of people protest peacefully every week against the government, LGBTQ community members are respected and valued, and media outlets are free to criticize or support government policies.
But these personal stories from Gaza show that in Gaza it’s the polar opposite. Palestinians are being subjugated by Hamas day and night, and they’re saying this in their own words.
Now the only question that remains is, will anyone in the free world actually listen? Or do Palestinian lives only matter when Israel can be blamed?
Yoseph Haddad is an Israeli rights activist. He is the CEO of the NGO Together - Vouch for Each Other, which aims to create a better understanding and cooperation between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews.
This op-ed is published in partnership with a coalition of organizations that fight antisemitism across the world. Read the previous article by Dr. Shmuel Katz.