Gaza City – Hundreds of Gaza civilian leaders gathered at a seaside hotel in Gaza City this fall to hear Hamas’ claims of victory over Israel at a conference backed by Hamas.
“The nation of Israel will be historic,” Conan Abbott, director of the conference, said in a speech broadcast across the strip. “Palestinians Outside Palestine: Prepare Your Documents. You will return to Palestine after liberation.
However, the truth was almost the opposite.
Seven months after Hamas launched its 11-day war with Israel, the stalemate between Israel and the Islamic movement has returned to where it was before the fighting began.
Israeli attacks in May killed at least 130 civilians and up to 100 militants and destroyed or damaged more than 1,000 homes, shops and offices in Gaza. Rockets fired by Hamas and its allies killed 13 people in Israel and, incidentally, at least 15 Palestinians in Gaza.
But otherwise, it has not changed greatly. The 14-year Israeli-Egyptian siege on Gaza remains. The Palestinian leadership is divided between Gaza and the West Bank. The prospect of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians has been sluggish since 2014.
Even one undeniable advantage of Hamas – which became popular among the Palestinians and burned by the first start of the war – has crumbled, and its poll numbers have fallen to the same level as they did earlier this year.
Its blanket as the leader of the armed opposition against Israel has been tarnished by criticism of its rule over Gaza and concerns about corruption and widespread unemployment. Although the group publicly declared that it had defeated Israel during the war in May, it is pushing for fragmented economic concessions from private Israel and has not yet received a reconstruction agreement to repair the damage from the war.
“Everything here is frozen, you might say – cloudy, foggy,” said Ghazi Hamad, a member of the group’s political committee in Gaza. “It’s not clear which direction we’re going.”
Hamas has been here many times before.
Each of its previous wars with Israel – in 2008-9, 2012 and 2014 – demanded victory over the pile of Hamas debris and mass casualties.
Some see the way out of this cycle.
As a militant group that refuses to recognize Israel and, according to its founding charter, is determined to destroy it, Hamas has some other tools beyond unleashing a barrage of rockets once every few years.
Israeli officials are also ready to maintain the blockade. They will continue to operate under siege to curb Hamas’ ability to rebuild its arsenal and rebuild its strongholds, but will see a strategic advantage in keeping Hamas in power.
“We do not want to defeat Hamas,” a senior Israeli military official said in an interview. The official added that its main rival in Gaza – a more radical Islamist faction – was “no better than Hamas” and spoke of anonymity under Israeli ethics.
Stuck in the middle, they pay the normal Kazan price. The unemployment rate is over 40 percent. According to UNICEF, only 10 percent have access to clean water directly. Complex medical procedures are often only available in Israel, which restricts access to Gaza patients.
Most people blame Israel first. Some have criticized the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’ rival in the West Bank, for imposing temporary pay cuts on its staff in Gaza.
But increasingly, Kazans accuse Hamas of aggravating the situation through ties, corruption and incompetence, and diverting more money from social programs to military infrastructure.
“I want to work more than rockets,” said Ali El-Jaredli, an unemployed 28-year-old unemployed man waiting to apply for a work permit in Israel.
Last month, Mr. Hamad’s son, Mohammed, suffered a severe setback when it was revealed that he had booked an Egyptian vacation for his brother. The news came shortly after a ship carrying migrants from Gaza to Europe capsized in the Aegean Sea.
This summary underscores the claims of the two-tiered community and consolidates the criticisms that ordinary Kazans have on Hamas.
Hamas seeks to address these concerns by obtaining economic concessions from Israel. For all its bombings, the group wants Israel to reduce the impact of the siege, which could boost the economy and reduce domestic criticism.
Mr. Hamad believes the war forced small concessions from Israel and confirmed Hamas’ position as Jerusalem’s defender. But the rule is “big, big burden,” he said. “How can we feed the people? How can we lift the siege on Gaza? These are the main topics we’m always thinking about inside Hamas.
While there is no doubt that the siege has severely damaged Gaza’s economy, many Gaza people believe that Hamas’ policies have made it worse.
“Israel was the first person to cause this siege, and no one else,” said Hassan Dawoodi, 26. “But Hamas must at least do something.”
Israeli officials claim that Hamas had everything to do with the siege imposed after it seized control of Gaza in 2007, refusing to recognize Israel and abandoning its violence.
Hamas leaders still reject those moves. Most of Gaza’s people are descendants of refugees who fled or were forced out of Israel during the 1948 war. Hamas’ vow to reclaim the land still resonates with many.
The group of Hamas leaders is already engaged in an electoral process that has been rejected – winning the national elections in 2006 – and at least nominally limiting its regional aspirations to claiming acceptance of the Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza in 2017. .
But the group never withdrew its founding agreement calling for the destruction of Israel and the death of the Jews. Most countries in the world, including Israel and the United States, have listed it as a terrorist organization.
The group’s real politics – indirect negotiations with Israel – undermine its message.
Hamas has been avoiding a major military expansion in Gaza since May in a bid to thwart talks.
Hamas members have continued to carry out small-scale attacks, including the killing of an Israeli tour guide in Jerusalem in November, and have been promoting unrest in the West Bank. The militants sent several fire balloons and fired bullets into the Israeli border, killing an Israeli border guard at point-blank range.
Israeli security services say they have arrested dozens of Hamas operatives in the West Bank, where they have been accused of plotting further attacks. A senior Israeli military official said Israeli military officials believed Hamas was involved in the rocket attacks from Lebanon in the summer.
But relatively few rockets have been launched since May, and nothing has been launched since September, which is a signal that the group wants to avoid another major air war, analysts say.
Israel has retaliated by expanding Gaza’s fishing zone, allowing Gaza to export more goods and products and issuing 10,000 work permits, much more since Hamas came to power. Thousands of Gaza people lined up for hours to apply.
Qatar’s monthly stipend, valued at approximately $ 30 million and suspended during the war, was finally fully recovered in November.
But a comprehensive reconstruction plan involving wealthy international donors has not yet been completed.
Hamas is dependent on Egypt, which controls the southern border of Gaza, almost exclusively on Israel, and that relationship has improved.
Hamas has condemned Egypt for trying to make peace with Israel, and relations have further expanded since the Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 from the same Islamic movement as Hamas.
But Mr. Morsi’s successor, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, sought to exert influence through a serious contribution to Gaza’s restructuring, and security was beefed up in 2017 after the war. Egypt has pledged $ 500 million for post-war reconstruction.
In response, Hamas asked Mr. Billboards showing L-CC monuments were allowed to pop-up on major Gaza boulevards – a scene unimaginable five years ago.
Despite the announcements of its leadership, there have been discussions among some Hamas members about the need for a somewhat pragmatic approach to Israel, according to Mottasem Dalal, a political analyst in Gaza.
He emphasized that the letter was not a signal of a formal antitrust inquiry into Hamas, but rather a signal of a formal antitrust inquiry into the allegations. Dalal said.
“I do not see the point in talking to Israel,” he said. Dalal said he was not a member of Hamas, but continued to speak with its leaders. “You are under Israeli occupation. They have occupied you. They control everything in your life. They can kill you. Why not talk to them?”
It is a bridge for Hamas leaders.
Mahmoud al-Zahr, co-founder of the movement, said the group should wait patiently for the fall of Israel, just as the Taliban have been waiting for two decades for US forces to withdraw from Afghanistan.
According to him, the Israelis were a temporary colonial existence, rather a people with thousands of years of contact with the land.
“Once the Taliban were defeated, the Americans escaped,” said Dr. al-Zahr.
Ayat Abu Haila Contributed report.