One year into Hamas takeover, impoverished Gaza hang inbalance

By Xinhua,

Gaza : 41-year-old Mahmoud Mahdi, the owner of a raw cloth shop, was sitting in his store in Gaza city where customers are as scarce as his goods on Saturday afternoon, idling away the hours, as he does every day of the past year.

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Nearly one year has passed since Islamic Hamas movement took control of Gaza Strip in mid June last year by force, after weeks of violent infighting with security forces loyal to moderate President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.

For the first time, the small, impoverished and overcrowded enclave has been under the sole rule of Hamas, and with what came along with it, a full-scale and stricter Israeli blockade.

Many believe that the situation is worse off now due to different reasons, mainly the Israeli closure of the border crossings, the ongoing violence between Israel and Gaza armed groups lead by Hamas, and the status of split and disputes between Hamas and Fatah.

The biggest loss comes at the economic front. During the year, Israel tightened the blockade and barred all kinds of raw-materials for industrial usage as well as the import of daily goods. Israel had also minimized the amount of fuel and cocking gas shipped into Gaza.

In Mahdi’s case, the closure means a cut-off of resources. “The clothes and mattresses I sell are brought from Israel and now the people don’t know how or from where to bring their goods in. Also there are no raw materials in the markets to buy,” said Mahdi.

“Until one year ago, I made 50-70 Shekels (15.3-21.4 U.S. dollars) a day, but now I barely get 200 Shekels a month,” Mahdi said, adding that despite that he has to hang on to the job as he has no idea what other job he can find.

However, Mahdi does not think that nothing good comes out of the Hamas takeover. Compared to one year ago, when the enclave was plagued by chaos and disorder after Fatah authority was accused of corruption, “the situation is better now regarding the safety and security,” he said.

After routing the security forces led by Fatah movement, Hamas authorities take charge of security here in the enclave as well as the management and distribution of resources, including such key materials as fuel and gas.


While the living conditions in Gaza, which is agreed by many as the worst ever experienced in the enclave, piles up pressure on Hamas movement to end its control here, Hamas still considers itself strong and refuses to admit that the Israeli blockade has weakened the movement and its popularity among the Gazan population.

Salah al-Bardaweel, Hamas spokesman in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), said he can’t deny that the economy situation “became hard for the people who suffer from the unemployment and the lack of money, but there is a management of the resources in a way we believe it is successful and we try not to give up our decision in return for the lift of the siege.”

He added that “The previous governments were depending on loans of billion of dollars but we did not take a single cent in loan. We stayed away from the loans and did not overburden the people with the debts that stole their political decision.”

Meanwhile, Hamas accused Abbas and his aids in Ramallah of having allied with the United States and Israel to isolate the Gazans, saying that “this was against the spirit of the democracy and led to the deterioration.”

Abbas on Wednesday presented an initiative to end the split between Gaza and the West Bank and called for a dialogue with Hamas, with which he had hitherto banned contact since the Gaza takeover. His proposal was accepted by Hamas leaders, who called on the Arab League (AL)to sponsor a dialogue between the two sides.

However, aides to Abbas were quick to insist the president’s position has not changed and that what he wanted was only discussion on the implementation of a recent Yemeni initiative which called for Hamas to give up its hold on Gaza.

Talal Awkal, a Palestinian academic said that it is clear that Hamas doesn’t present any indications that it may retreat from what it has carried out in Gaza last June.

“Hamas consolidates the fact of alternative institutions in the Gaza Strip and so there is nothing paving the way for a dialogue,” said Awkal.

The Gazans have few choices. What Hamas offers for them is patience, endurance and what it called the public explosion to break the siege by crossing the borders.

“All these choices reflect a crisis. These choices are meant to encourage other parties to intervene,” said Awkal.

On Thursday, after the Abbas call for dialogue, deposed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haneya called on the AL to host a comprehensive dialogue between his movement and Fatah movement of Abbas, noting the success of Arab mediators in brokering a deal among rival factions in Lebanon last month.

“We are ready to have the AL to sponsor this dialogue in any Arab country on the basis of no loser and no winner in the hope of reaching an agreement that would make the Palestinian people the victors,” he said. (1 U.S. dollar=3.27 Shekels)