Hamas Blamed by Gaza Civilians for War's Devastation

Desperate Gaza Citizens Urge Hamas to Seek Peace

by Sededin Dedovic
Hamas Blamed by Gaza Civilians for War's Devastation
© Getty Images / Getty Images

Some residents of Gaza today criticized the Islamist organization Hamas, which governs the war-torn Palestinian territory, for the ongoing war that has devastated their lives, and for Hamas's failure to end it. "Hamas has led the Palestinian people into a war of destruction," said 67-year-old Um Ala, who has been displaced twice during the more than eight months of war between Palestinian extremists and Israel.

"If Hamas leaders were concerned about the suffering of the Palestinian people, they would have agreed to a deal," added Um Ala, who has now taken refuge from the conflict in Khan Yunis, the main city in southern Gaza Strip.

Palestinians who agreed to speak to AFP were asked if they believed Hamas was also responsible for the delay in achieving a ceasefire, and they answered affirmatively, criticizing the organization, which Gaza residents rarely do.

The war broke out on October 7th after a surprise Hamas attack on southern Israel, which killed 1,194 people, mostly civilians, and 251 hostages were taken to Gaza, according to AFP, based on official Israeli information.

In Gaza, 116 hostages are still detained, 41 of whom are no longer alive, according to the Israeli army. In response to the October 7th attack, at least 37,323 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, have been killed in an Israeli offensive by land, air, and sea, according to the local health ministry.

Since the beginning of the war, a ceasefire was established only once, at the end of November, lasting a week, during which over 100 hostages were freed. All subsequent attempts to declare a ceasefire have failed. Mediators from the USA, Egypt, and Qatar are now negotiating again with Israel and Hamas to try to reach an agreement to end the war.

However, some Gaza residents, who have lived in fear and under restrictions since Hamas forcibly took control of the territory in 2007 from the rival, more moderate Fatah, blame the Islamists for the great destruction caused by the war.

Fifty-five-year-old Abu Ayad believes Hamas is mocking Gaza residents, their pain, and the destruction of their lives, while the organization's political leadership, living in Qatar, sleeps, eats, and drinks comfortably.

"Have you ever tried to actually live our lives today? Do you know that we often can't find any food at all?" said Abu Ayad, whose three children live with relatives in separate locations. Washington is currently striving to secure the adoption of a new agreement presented by US President Joe Biden on May 31st, but it has not yet been secured by the warring parties.

Israel and Hamas are again accusing each other, as they did before, and previous attempts to end the war have not been fruitful. "We are tired, we are dead, destroyed, our tragedies are countless," said 35-year-old Abu Shaker.

"What are you waiting for? What do you want? The war must end at any cost. We can't bear it anymore," he added, alluding to the extremist organization.

A missile strikes behind a minaret in Gaza on October 28, 2023 seen from Sderot, Israel© Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Despite such criticisms, public opinion polls in both Gaza and the other Palestinian territory, the West Bank, show that Hamas is the most popular political force, supported by 40% of respondents compared to Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah, with 20% support.

In early May, Hamas announced that it had accepted a ceasefire agreement, which sparked spontaneous celebrations in Gaza. It then turned out that two-thirds of those polled supported Hamas's decision at the time and expected the conflict to end in a few days.

Instead, they were met with disappointment. Now, Gaza residents interviewed by AFP are desperate and only want the war to end. Some are calling on Hamas to immediately stop the war and not seek to control and govern Gaza. "What have we achieved in this war except killing, destruction, devastation, and starvation," said 50-year-old Um Shadi, adding that each day of war increases the pain of people in Gaza and asking what Hamas is waiting for.

Hamas calls on the USA to put pressure on Israel

The Palestinian movement Hamas this morning called on the United States (USA) to apply "pressure" on Israel to achieve a lasting ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. In a statement, Hamas noted that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about Israel's agreement with the latest ceasefire proposal, but no Israeli officials were heard commenting on the plan.

"In this context, we call on Mr. Blinken and the Biden administration to apply direct pressure" on Israel, Hamas added. According to sources close to the ceasefire negotiations, Hamas has "amendments" to the plan announced by US President Joe Biden, which relate to a permanent ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

The proposed plan envisions, in the first phase, a six-week ceasefire followed by the withdrawal of Israeli forces from densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip, the release of some hostages held by Hamas since the attack on Israel on October 7th last year, as well as the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.