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Gazan civilians blame Hamas in secret testimonies

(Photo: Screenshot/Voices from Gaza)

Even before the Hamas massacres in Israel on Oct. 7, international media tended to blame Israel for the difficult living conditions in the Gaza Strip. However, many Gazan civilians have increasingly been blaming the terror organization for ruining their lives.

Due to ongoing fear of harsh reprisals, few Gazans have dared to openly criticize the Islamist group that has ruled the enclave with an iron fist since 2007.

“Voices from Gaza” is a unique initiative that documents covert interviews with Gazans, revealing their experiences and the harsh daily realities of their lives under Hamas rule. The project was developed by the Center for Peace Communications (CPC), a New-York based NGO, and is the continuation of the "Whispered in Gaza" initiative.

“The Israelis drop these leaflets offering cash rewards to anyone who can provide the whereabouts of [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar,” said one interviewee. “I swear, if I knew where he was, I’d bring them Sinwar’s head for free.”

When the Hamas attack on Israel brought the IDF's military response in Gaza, many civilians tried to find refuge in civilian structures such as Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. One couple sheltering in the hospital left when they discovered that Hamas terrorists had an ammunition depot in the building. They decided to return home, and the husband was subsequently killed when their building was bombed. Like a growing number of Gazans, the widow blames Hamas and Sinwar for the current situation.

There is currently no independent media in the Gaza Strip. Arab media outlets like Al Jazeera tend to parrot Hamas propaganda.

“Voices from Gaza” provides insights into what it is like living in Gaza under the Hamas government.

In late December, Muhammad Mushtaha, a preacher in a Gaza City neighborhood, risked his life by refusing to publicly praise Hamas during a sermon. Hamas authorities arrested Mushataha but quickly released him, fearing bad publicity after his son published an article in The Free Press.

Joseph Braude, a Middle East expert and founder of the CPC, praised Mushtaha for his courage to speak up against the Hamas regime.

“This was an example of someone who had shown courage, someone who would not toe the line, who had reached the view, as so many Gazans have, that this war, which Hamas started, is running like a wrecking ball through Gaza,” Braude said.

“This is a terrible regime that would provoke [the war] to its own people’s detriment, and even incorporate the suffering of people into their strategy to emerge victorious,” he added.

In November, an elderly Gazan man cursed Hamas during an interview with Al Jazeera in a Gaza hospital.

“What’s happening is criminal! Why is the resistance [Hamas] hiding among us? Why don’t they go to hell and hide there? They are not resistance,” the man said. The surprised Al Jazeera journalist decided to very abruptly end the interview.

Braude conducted various interviews with Gazan civilians on a variety of issues, including the reported scarcity of food in the coastal enclave. He learned that, while food is scarce, the main reason seems to be that Hamas is taking the humanitarian aid and selling it at inflated prices on the black market, including boxes marked "not for sale."

“Hamas are using food as money, making additional ways of accruing funds for their war. So people are not able to get as much as they certainly want and in many cases need,” Braude said.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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