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Hamas suppresses a Gaza protest movement

The terror group is determined to preserve its rule.

Gazans protest against the Hamas government, July 30, 2023. Source: Twitter.
Gazans protest against the Hamas government, July 30, 2023. Source: Twitter.
Yoni Ben Menachem
Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. He served as director general and chief editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Hamas security officials arrested journalist Bashar Taleb in the Gaza Strip this weekend. They confiscated his photographic equipment after he covered the wave of protests in Gaza on July 30, 2023 against the Hamas government.

The Fatah movement condemned his arrest and demanded his release. Sources in the Strip claim that the Bidna Na’ish (Want to Live) movement, which operated in the Gaza Strip in 2019 and was brutally suppressed by the Hamas regime, has reawakened and is responsible for the wave of protests.

Thousands of demonstrators demonstrated in various centers in the Gaza Strip and called for the overthrow of the Hamas government.

The Hamas movement deployed large forces throughout the Strip, imposed a blanket ban on press coverage of the demonstrations and arrested suspects for organizing the protests.

The background for the protests was the Gaza Strip’s economic situation, the announcement of new taxes, the terrible electricity shortage in the current heat wave, rising unemployment and the corruption of the Hamas government.

Residents of the Strip claim that the Hamas government makes sure that electricity is provided first and foremost to the homes of Hamas leaders, its government institutions and mosques, and that it deprives the residents of Gaza in the distribution of electricity in general.

The protests broke out in Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip and spread to the center and north.

The demonstrators were mainly members of the younger generation who were fed up with the harsh living conditions and the siege imposed on the Strip. The demonstrations erupted while the Hamas leadership was meeting in Cairo with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for reconciliation talks, which remained at an impasse.

The demonstrators in Khan Yunis waved Palestinian flags. They called on Abbas to intervene in Gaza and end Palestinian society’s disputes.

Many residents are angry at the leadership of the Hamas movement, particularly after former Hamas leader Khaled Mashal admitted that the division in Palestinian society is the result of a fight over the public’s pieces of cake. Mashal resides in Qatar.

“The only explanation for the split in Palestinian society is the competition for leadership. There are no real reasons; we are fighting over the government cake even though it really isn’t a real cake,” Mashal said.

The Bidna Na’ish movement announced at the end of last week the continuation of its activities despite Hamas oppression so as to bring a “better human life” to residents of Gaza.

Hamas’ security forces were deployed in large forces all over the Strip for fear that, after Friday prayers, the wave of demonstrations against Hamas rule would reawaken.

The Hamas movement began a public defamation campaign of the protest movement on social media. It accused it of collaborating with the Israeli Shin Bet and Palestinian Authority’s intelligence to shake the stability of Hamas’ rule in Gaza.

Preachers in Gaza mosques incited, at the behest of Hamas, against the protest movement, claiming that although the movement’s demands regarding the urgent need to improve the standard of living in Gaza are justified, the wave of demonstrations is entirely unnecessary and anyone who demonstrates is a traitor and an apostate.

The Hamas movement disavows all responsibility for the difficult economic situation in Gaza, suppresses the protest movement by force and places the responsibility on Israel’s economic blockade imposed on Gaza from 2007 until today.

Hamas is determined to preserve its rule in the Strip, as well as governmental corruption and oppression of its residents.

The Israeli security establishment fears Hamas will try to divert the widespread anger towards Israel, which could lead to large demonstrations on the Gaza border fence and rocket fire.

The security establishment is now considering increasing the number of Gazan workers allowed to work in Israel. Currently, the number is about 17,000, and allowing a few thousand more could help alleviate the economic situation in the Strip.

The Hamas movement managed last weekend to suppress the renewal of the wave of protests. Still, the Gaza time bomb is ticking and threatens to explode at any moment in the face of the Hamas government and in Israel’s face too.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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