The Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday on the growing discontent expressed by residents of the Gaza Strip with Hamas rule. Though those interviewed are not at all sympathetic to Israel, that they speak out is remarkable because “[u]nder Hamas rule, it’s rare and dangerous to share even as much as a hint of criticism of the government with outsiders.”
The AP shows the self aggrandizing nature of Hamas’ rule:
Hamas has ruled with an iron fist since it took over Gaza, expelling the Western-backed Palestinian Authority. It does not tolerate dissent, detains critics and carries out extrajudicial executions of alleged spies for Israel. It has filled government departments with loyalists and is particularly intolerant of any criticism of its handling of the conflict with Israel. It seeks to block unauthorized media coverage of its military wing.
In almost every square and major intersection in Gaza City, giant billboards extoll the battlefield valor of Hamas fighters, their quest for martyrdom and their locally manufactured rockets. Al-Aqsa television, the organization’s 24-hour news channel, tirelessly airs Hamas propaganda and reports news with a Hamas-friendly slant.
AP attributes the discontent to the economic situation in Gaza with unemployment running at approximately 50%. The contrast between the average Gazan and the Hamas leadership is stark.
The Washington Post published a similar report earlier this week noting that the criticism was rare because Hamas “is known to intimidate — and sometimes harm — those critical of its policies.”
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal lives in luxury in Qatar and is a billionaire. Islmail Haniyeh, who lives in Gaza, is worth millions and makes sure that his children are taken care financially. The Washington Post noted a few weeks ago that “[w]hile the Gaza Strip remains mired in poverty — the 2011 per capita income was $1,165 — Hamas is thought to have sunk more than $1 million into the excavation and maintenance of every tunnel.”
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