You won’t hear about this Gaza protest.
The recent media frenzy surrounding the so-called “March of Return protests” on the Gaza border revealed the world’s swiftness to blame Israel entirely for Gaza’s dire situation.
You are unlikely to read about Palestinians holding Hamas, an internationally-recognized terror organization, accountable for their predicament. You are also unlikely to hear about Hamas’ violent suppression of these peaceful protests.
On Monday, more than a thousand Palestinians in Gaza took to the streets in a protest directed at Hamas. Protestors say that the terror organization’s armed operatives violently suppressed the peaceful protest with rocks, sticks and shoes.
Gazans were protesting to end the division between the armed terrorist group, Hamas, that rules the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. They were also protesting the sanctions imposed on the Mediterranean enclave by PA President Mahmoud Abbas that among other things saw the salaries and benefits of Gaza-based civil workers cut.
One protester noted, “I filmed part of the clashes and escaped by a car.” She explains that Hamas members pursued her, forcing her to delete any digital evidence. The protestor reports Hamas operatives saying, “we will get back to you, just wait for us.”
Hamas is notorious for violating freedom of the press in the Gaza Strip while endangering journalists and other civilians. The terror group controls the local media and enforces strict censorship on all local and foreign outlets operating in the Gaza Strip. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, journalists often witnessed Hamas firing rockets into Israel close to their vicinity in residential areas, putting them and countless civilians in the line of fire.
Journalists in the Gaza Strip who criticize Hamas leadership can expect severe torture and imprisonment.
In condemning Hamas’ suppression of the protest, Fatah spokesperson, Osama Qwasme, said, “Hamas doesn’t want to end the division and achieve unity. We call on Hamas to redirect its approach towards achieving Palestinian reconciliation…”
Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO Executive Committee called for Hamas accountability. She called the Hamas attack on “journalists, employees, and other demonstrators” unacceptable.
Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after deposing Fatah in a bloody coup that saw 160 people killed, including 39 uninvolved bystanders. Of these, 11 were women and 14 were children.
The most contentious issue between Hamas and Fatah is the future of the weapons and other tools of terror in Gaza. Hamas has made clear that it will refuse to concede control of its terror weapons in any reconciliation deal. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has said that the only viable solution is for PA security forces to maintain control over Gaza’s weaponry.
While a reconciliation agreement was signed in Cairo in October 2017 that would restore the Palestinian Authority’s control over Gaza, no progress has been made due to differing interpretation of its details.
Contributed by CAMERA intern Joshua Gannon.