Gazans becoming increasingly vocal in criticism of Hamas, as hashtag ‘They Kidnapped Gaza’ makes the round
Residents bemoan corruption, poverty and fear of reprisals for speaking up
The hashtag, “They Kidnapped Gaza,” has been making the rounds on social media among activists in Gaza and Palestinians abroad who are becoming more vocal in their criticism of Hamas’ despotic rule in the coastal enclave.
According to several news reports, Gazans participated in rare public discussions on social media last week criticizing Hamas.
This is a departure from the traditional narrative which blames Israel for the troubles in Gaza. Public criticism of Hamas is rare, mainly due to fear of reprisal. The terror group has been running the Gaza Strip since 2007 rising to power as a charitable organization and a political alternative to Fatah, the Palestinian party run by President Mahmoud Abbas.
But the economic struggles in the coastal enclave are dire. Electricity is interrupted for hours on a daily basis and unemployment has reached 67% among youth who see no future in the Gaza Strip.
Jehad who reportedly still lives in Gaza, joined the anti-Hamas social event and accused Hamas of corruption.
“We see the buildings rising in the northern Gaza Strip, the investments, the high-rises. We all see it. You can’t close your eyes to it… We all know that you’re swimming in corruption,” Jehad said.
Suleiman, a resident of the Gazan city Deir al-Balah, spoke up against Hamas’ authoritarian rule in Gaza.
“In Gaza, you’re told to shut up. Don’t you dare give voice to your pain. Because the shadow of the Internal Security forces is always pursuing your thoughts,” Suleiman said.
Expats who were able to leave Gaza feel more free to speak their minds. Mahmoud Nashwan, a 32-year engineer who now resides in Belgium, is one of them.
“Imagine your 1-month-old son dies because of the cold. Imagine your son dying because there is no electricity, no money, no wages and no home,” Nashwan said.
While Hamas officially claims that it is protecting Gazans against “Israeli oppression,” Nashwan accuses Hamas of oppression and believes it will eventually collapse.
“Injustice will fall and every oppressor will fall,” predicted Nashwan.
During the anti-Hamas social media event, activist Amer Balosha criticized Hamas for its indifference toward the suffering of regular Gazans.
“Hamas has billions of dollars in investments in many countries, while people [in Gaza] starve to death and migrate in search of work,” said Balosha, a 29-year-old graduate of Al-Azhar University who now lives in the Turkish metropolis Istanbul.
Balosha was forced to eventually flee from Gaza after Hamas arrested him for his role in Gazan protests in 2019.
Samer Sinijlawi, a Fatah activist, spoke with i24NEWS about the rumblings in Gaza.
“Hamas is an authoritative regime, it’s not a regime that allows people to mobilize and express their point of views,” Sinijlawi said. “People are fed up in Gaza… it is becoming unlivable.”
In May 2021, Gaza suffered once again as Hamas launched an 11-day war against Israel – firing more than 4,000 rockets at the Jewish state. Israel responded with heavy bombing of Gaza, leveling several buildings. While Hamas has conveniently blamed the slow reconstruction in Gaza on the outside world, Gazans increasingly blame the ruling Hamas regime for their misfortunes in Gaza. By comparison, the economic situation for the West Bank Arab population is far better than in Gaza, mainly due to a more stable political situation and the Palestinian Authorities’ economic cooperation with Israel and the outside world.
Situated on the Mediterranean Sea between Egypt and Israel, the Gaza Strip has a population of approximately 2 million. The late Israeli President Shimon Peres once envisioned that the Gaza Strip could become a prosperous Middle Eastern version of Singapore, which is even more densely populated than Gaza.
However, despite massive international support, Gaza has fallen only deeper into poverty under the rule of Hamas. While Hamas is considered one of the wealthiest terrorist organizations in the world – having accumulated billions of dollars – most Gazans live in poverty.