Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Wednesday, August 13, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
Once again...after the fact but at least a little bit of belated reporting, from the Washington Post:

Ziad Abu Halool says he is tired of seeing his neighborhood destroyed. He’s tired of having no running water for 10 days, no electricity for even longer. He’s tired of watching Hamas and other Palestinian militants fire rockets into Israel from his neighborhood — and tired of praying that Israeli retaliation won’t obliterate his house.

So, after more than a month of war and devastation, Abu Halool speaks words that once seemed unthinkable: He says that although he despises Israel, he also blames Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups for his woes.

They have “committed many mistakes,” said Abu Halool, a government employee. “All the Palestinian factions should stop firing rockets. It’s enough. We’ve been suffering.”

As the Palestinian death toll tops 1,900, more and more Gazans are questioning the decisions and strategies of Hamas, the militant Islamist group that tightly controls the Gaza Strip and is known to intimidate — and sometimes harm — those critical of its policies. Most of the disapproval is still beneath the surface, hinted at only in private conversations. But in battered enclaves such as Beit Lahiya, discontent is bubbling up openly, fueled by a sense of helplessness and fatigue.

The criticism does not necessarily reflect a loss of support for Hamas. Most Palestinians, even Hamas’s biggest detractors, say they back the current war against Israel, believing it is the only way to achieve the short-term Palestinian demands of lifting the Israeli and Egyptian economic blockades of Gaza and opening the strip’s border crossings. No Beit Lahiya residents accuse Hamas of using them as human shields, as Israel claims, even as they acknowledge that militants are firing rockets from their neighborhoods.

Yet the growing frustration among Palestinians suggests that, despite their fervent nationalism, many hold Hamas partly accountable for the humanitarian crisis. That resentment could build if Hamas reignites war during the 72-hour cease-fire — one of several truces in the conflict — that was holding for a second day Tuesday.
...
When Hamas and other Palestinian militant factions rejected an Egyptian-crafted cease-fire a week into the conflict, a cessation that Israel accepted, there was no public criticism from Palestinians, but only a sense that Hamas was on the right track toward pressuring Israel into accepting Palestinian demands. In the days after, as Israel launched a ground invasion, Hamas’s popularity soared.

Now, some Palestinians are questioning the decision to reject the first truce. Roughly 200 Palestinians had been killed in the fighting at that time. Today, amid another Egyptian-led truce effort, the death toll is nearly 10 times greater, and Gaza is a wasteland of destruction that exceeds that left behind after the previous two
Israel-Hamas conflicts, in 2009 and 2012.

“All the people are whispering, ‘Why didn’t Hamas accept the Egyptian initiative in the beginning of the war when the casualties were still low?’ ” said Hani Habib, a Palestinian journalist and political analyst.

Those sentiments can be heard around Beit Lahiya, a sprawling, hilly enclave of large houses abutting the border with Israel. Many residents said they were exhausted from bearing the brunt of the war, noting that the fighting had done much less damage to Israel.

“They should have accepted the cease-fire,” said Hathem Mena, 55, a teacher, referring to Hamas and other Palestinian militants. “It would have stopped the bloodshed. We are the ones affected by the war, our houses and our lives. The destruction is over on this side, not the Israeli side.”

Other residents said they wanted the militants to stop shooting rockets from their neighborhoods because that often brought a far more forceful reaction from Israel.

“When they fire from here, Israel repays us with an F-16 airstrike,” said Rafaat Shamiya, 40, adding that he largely blames Israel. “We are tired. We don’t have the power to fight the Israeli. While he is sitting in his office in Israel, he can destroy all of Gaza by remote control.”

Abu Halool, the government employee, said Hamas should have foreseen the consequences for the Palestinian people of supporting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot.

“Now we don’t have relations with any other Arab country,” he said. “We should have stayed out of it.”

Some residents said they don’t expect Hamas and other Palestinian militant factions to help rebuild Gaza.

“They just fight Israel, and then they leave everything,” said Mahmoud, 20, who asked that his last name not be used. “The people will pay the price.”
The New York Times sees a few glimmers of grumbling too:

After more than a month of war, the people of Gaza are sad, of course, at 1,900 lives lost. They are angry, too: at Israel for destroying some 10,000 homes, at the Arab leaders who seem unmoved, the Western ones who seem unable to move, and even, quietly, at the Palestinian militants who built tunnels under their neighborhoods.

...Lima Diab, 27, said that under Hamas’s rule of Gaza over the past seven years “everything went bad,” and she sees the movement as “failed in politics.” But though she would prefer that rockets be fired from open areas to reduce risk to civilians, Ms. Diab described as “genius” the tunnels through which Gaza gunmen attacked Israeli soldiers and shook an entire society with new fear.

A Hamas rally on Thursday during the temporary cease-fire drew only a few thousand people, and few have raised the movement’s green flags during the fighting. Open dissent, though, is seen as dangerous.

When Suhair al-Najjar, 32, said, essentially, “I curse both sides,” and described Hamas as “shoes,” a sharp insult, an older man strode over to scold her. “Don’t say ‘Hamas,’ say ‘the Arab leaders,’ ” he yelled.

Ms. Najjar, who lost 30 relatives along with her home in Khuza’a, a village of 10,000 on Gaza’s eastern border that was demolished, was not deterred. “I’m angry at the two sides,” she repeated. “I’m angry at everybody, all the countries.” The bearded man in a gray jalabiya came closer and demanded, “You need someone to teach you how to talk?”

...Mr. Abu Asun, 34, is a barber and father of six who loves to play soccer. The Israelis left behind food cans and other detritus at his home, too. He thinks they slept in his bedroom, whose outer wall was blown out; he found earphones, and figured they wanted to block the sound of their own bombs.

“It’s not worth it,” he said as he surveyed the damage. But a relative, Mahmoud Barbah, 28, countered: “The destruction is not important, the importance is that we kill Jews and capture them. Those who kill our children must be killed.”

Mr. Abu Asun complained that the tunnels were made from “the cement that we are demanding for our home.”


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