June 24, 2007

Life in Gaza

I just stumbled on this BBC report on the take of three Gazans on the new situation with Hamas ruling the Gaza strip. The report's about 4 days old now so who knows what might have happened in a fluid situation. The Beeb talks to three Gazans, though from their bios they don't look very typical to me. First up is a businessman, Mamoun Abu Shahla.
There was the possibility of leaving today with the foreigners, but I decided to stay here.

I feel responsible because I'm on the board of directors of the Bank of Palestine.

We expect a stream of financial difficulties in the coming weeks.

For the time being at least, we have better security. Hamas are dominating everything at the moment and we are not expecting any struggles from Fatah. The leaders have left and morale among those left is low.

I believe these Hamas people won't live long. There will be a big financial siege. We don't have ports or airports - everything has to come from Israel.

We need at least 350 trucks to come in daily and at the moment only the Kerem Shalom checkpoint [in south-east Gaza] is open - with a capacity of 18 trucks a day.

There will be a continuous shortage of everything in the country. Difficulties lie ahead and the people will suffer.

Hamas don't have any option but to return to a coalition. This won't happen in the near future, but after several months.

The problem is not the politicians, but the guys in the street with guns in their hands.
Better security? Who from? That's left unsaid.

Next up is a university lecturer, Awad Keshta:
I live in Rafah but travel to Gaza City for work. The journey is fine now; there are no checkpoints on the road. It only takes me about 10 minutes to get to work.

Since Hamas gained control, students have come back to take their exams.

No one liked what happened, because so many people were killed. But even before the clashes, people were suffering. Families were taking revenge on each other.

Everyone is safer now. People have been told to hand in their weapons. But who knows what will happen in the future.

Nobody will accept two governments, not even the Palestinian people.

Hamas and Fatah have only one path they can go down: negotiation. They can't ignore each other forever.

I have American citizenship so I could leave Gaza, but I have no intention of doing so. I know nobody else who is trying to go. Any talk of people leaving is propaganda.

Nothing has run out, no-one is starving.
Checkpoints on the roads? Who had checkpoints on the roads? Fatah before Hamas took control? Hamas while it was taking control? Again it doesn't say. And what's this about no one starving. Under the direct occupation malnutrition was running at 13% of under 16s and the post-"disengagement" blockade was said to have made things worse. How is no one starving now? But let's look at the third and final comment. It's from a student, Abdallah Samir:
Things are quiet now, but this could mean two things. Either it really is calm, or it's the calm before the storm. You can't tell.

I think what happened last week was really wrong - Hamas taking power by force. We are one nation and it cannot be solved with weapons.

But the West and Israel are also to blame. If the West really thinks it knows what's best for us - why did we bother with elections?

If I were a Hamas supporter (and I am not, I don't support any party), I would be supporting them now. I don't like to be oppressed like this. It's not right.

As you know, the Gaza Strip is like a prison. It was never free. Israel still controls everything - the border, the air space.

Don't blame the Palestinians for not making it a modern country.
This last guy said the Hamas taking or retaking of power was/is wrong but there is none of the condemnatory language we have heard from various quartet types but check out this view from the West Bank:
Mabrouk guys! You did it! Start you spin now. Tell us how you did it for us, for Palestine, for the people, for security, for dignity, for the land, for history, for the future of our kids. Tell us and we will believe you because you are the "victors" who "liberated" Gaza (again) and freed its people (again).

You can do it again and again and again. Because words are cheap. As cheap as the blood you can now dip your fingers in to draw on your faces your victory sign.

To victory!
This is how the author introduces her blog:
These are improvisations: neither a manifesto nor a treatise because life is too complicated for either. Yet, I'm improvising as an Arab--Palestinian-- woman with a progressive point of view always under construction. Since I often find myself caught between anti-Arab racism and arab reactionary politics, both of which threaten to gag me, I'm raising my voice against both, hoping in the process to contribute an improvised note to a progressive Arab blogosphere.
Probably a good reason not to take sides in any internal dispute here but to make support for the Palestinians unconditional.

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