In Gaza, the siege mentality is helping Hamas

As long as Gaza feels ignored, isolated and abandoned, Hamas will continue to draw support

19 July 2014

9:00 AM

19 July 2014

9:00 AM



The main entrance to Al-Shifa Hospital was crowded with what seemed to be journalists. This wasn’t unusual. They wait here most days for ambulances ferrying in the dead and wounded from Israeli air strikes; but this time there seemed to be more of them. Getting nearer, I saw that what I had taken to be microphones in their hands were in fact slippers. These weren’t hacks, they were angry Gazans, come to fling shoes (the ultimate insult in the Middle East) at Jawad Awad, the minister of health of the Palestinian Authority, paying a visit from Ramallah.

This was an important day in the current round of bloodletting between Israel and Hamas. The Egyptian government had proposed a ceasefire (this, the first real international effort to end the conflict, fell apart after six hours) but the crowd was far less interested in peace than in expressing their rage. In their eyes, the government has done almost nothing while they faced the Israeli military onslaught and suffered from the Israeli and Egyptian blockades.

Did they think the minister had come over to persuade them to sign the Egyptian deal? I asked one man, Mohammed Fayez. He said: ‘I doubt if he even knows anything about that, he has been enjoying himself in New York. We have had so many martyrs, so many injured, and this is the first time he has bothered to turn up.’ Fayez was not a Hamas supporter, he insisted, but had begun to loathe Fatah: ‘Other Arabs have also betrayed us, but this man is actually a Palestinian, Fatah are Palestinians.’ Others around him nodded agreement.

Airstrikes of Israel
Palestinians inspect a house destroyed in air attacks Photo: Getty

Internecine strife is nothing new in Gaza. I remember, during the last Israeli mission in 2012, the execution of half a dozen ‘collaborators’ whose bodies were then dragged through the streets, roped to motorbikes. But this feeling of being forgotten, even by their own politicians, permeates Gaza to an extent I have not seen here in recent times.

In 2012, when Israel launched ‘Operation Pillar of Defence’, a delegation of Arab League foreign ministers rushed to Gaza to visit the wounded at Shifa, and their Turkish counterpart insisted on joining them. This time around, there was only the hapless Mr Awad, belatedly.

‘You won’t be seeing the Arab League or any other ministers here this time. You’ll hear some talk, but nothing much else,’ said Dr Ashraf al-Qadri, one of the directors at Shifa. ‘Supplies are being held up in Ramallah — we are looking beyond Ramallah for international help, but so far we have only got promises. Half the ambulances can’t run due to lack of fuel, because the Egyptians have blocked supplies through Rafah. We didn’t have this problem in 2012, because the Egyptians increased the supply at the time.’

Palestinian relatives mourn the death of a 20-year-old Hamas militant who was killed minutes before a five-hour truce went into effect Photo: AFP/Getty

Having to stand together against an uncaring world makes one stronger, I have heard Israelis say. In Gaza, this same siege mentality is helping Hamas, at least for the time being. Its governance, or lack of it, had lost popularity. Now, though, they lead the resistance — and people do not want to speak against the resistance.

Some are afraid of Hamas, but there are many others who are genuinely proud that the Palestinians are once again fighting back. The hundreds of rockets fired over the border may not have caused much damage, but the fact that their powerful enemy is panicking is a point of pride.

The majority of people I spoke to here are against the Egyptian plan for an unconditional ceasefire, as is Hamas. This does not mean that ordinary Gazans follow Hamas’s lead; it is a reflection of the lack of faith they have in the international community to ensure delivery of the terms agreed in a peace deal. What is the point of 200 ‘martyrs’ sacrificing their lives, they ask, if nothing is gained in return? And while many do not view Hamas as a capable administrator, they believe that as a military organisation it will be best able to counter any land offensives that Israel may launch, alongside Islamic Jihad.

There are some who want to call a halt to the rocket attacks so that talks can begin. ‘Where do we get to — 200, 400 or 500 martyrs? Are we going to go to more and more funerals?’ asked Bushra, a young woman of 24 whose family home was bombed in 2012. But she is in a minority. I am writing this after a night of constant bombing which has continued into the morning, and Bushra is right that there will be more casualties. But as long as Gaza feels ignored, isolated and abandoned, Hamas will be able to continue to draw support for the fight — even if it is one they have engineered.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Kim Sengupta is the defence and diplomatic correspondent of the Independent.

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Show comments
  • Kitty MLB

    “We have so many injured martyrs” martyrs? Oh I forgot,
    the only ‘religion’ in the world that has such disrespect for
    humanity that they are rewarded in death with 27 virgins or
    whatever the amount happens to be.
    The middle east just like eternal war, and Hamas don’t like
    the fact that Israel (a civilized country surrounded by savagery)
    is defending itself. If you put down your guns there will be
    peace but if Isreal puts down her guns you will slaughter her
    and then continue slaughtering eachother.

    • Shazza

      And then continue slaughtering us.

    • rtj1211

      You clearly have never got to know any Arab people. Arab people are not savages, they are not warmongers, they are like you and I, in the main. They fall in love, have children and suffer terribly if they die through war.

      You really do come across as a very immature woman who is paid to troll on this site with a little Englander voice.

      I’d like you to present the 25 year death tolls for Israelis, Palestinians and Lebanese in regional conflicts.

      When I asked the Independent about 10 year figures about a decade ago, Robert Fisk was good enough to supply some figures which suggested that the net murdering index of Israelis (Palestinians bumped off by Israelis – Israelis bumped off by Palestinians) was in the region of thousands.

      I’d like you to explain how someone who murders more is civilised, but a people who murder less are savages.

      It may prove to be a considerable diplomatic challenge………..

  • Advocatus_Diaboli_69

    Fayez was not a Hamas supporter, he insisted, but had begun to loathe Fatah: ‘Other Arabs have also betrayed us, but this man is actually a Palestinian, Fatah are Palestinians.’ Others around him nodded agreement.

    Last year The Commentator website published an article which contained this:

    “European Court of Auditors* 2013 report reveals that $2.7 billion in direct aid to the Palestinians between 2008 and 2012 could not be accounted for and appeared to be lost. In addition, EU investigators who visited Jerusalem and areas on the West Bank were unable to obtain information or speak to Palestinian officials about corruption in the areas they controlled.”

    Evidence suggests that the greatest enemies of the Palestinians is not Israel, but Hamas, Fatah, and the Arab neighbours who use them as pawns.

  • lookout

    Most of the money went into Arafat’s bank account, all the people at his deathbed were trying to get their mitts on $400,000,000 he had put away for a rainy day

    • Liberty

      Even the West’s favourite, Abbas is a multimillionaire. His official salary is $1.3m a month excluding income from graft.

  • Augustus

    Unlike it’s enemy towards their own inhabitants which they use as human pawns, the IDF has done everything in its power to prevent Israeli casualties as well as the death of uninvolved Palestinians. In fact, Hamas actually forces residents who have received evacuation notices to stay in their houses with threats of reprisals. Those citizens whose homes are used as launching facilities and rocket stores are therefore stuck between expecting IDF bombs and Hamas threats if they leave. They are treated like fodder with which to make wicked propaganda. Who would support that?

  • Augustus

    Contrary to conventional wisdom, Arab leaders don’t consider the Palestinian issue a top priority, of any strategic added value, a major cause of Middle East turbulence, or even the crux of any disputes they may have with Israel. Unlike Obama, who in his 2009 speech in Cairo made a point of elevating the Muslim Brotherhood to unprecedented heights, President Sissi has outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood (parent of Hamas), branded it a terror organization and sentenced its leaders to death.

    • rtj1211

      Of course they don’t, there isn’t a mass of oil to extract there……

      In humanitarian terms, however, it is a rather large eyesore…….

  • Patrice

    since they occupy the land which isn’t theirs, no peace will be settleled ever.just imagine Gitane chose to live in britan and make it there land, and all countries will help them to establish a country,will you defend UK or not??? it’s hypocracy..read history then you can talk….you get me sick with your ignorance.

    • Gwangi

      If Jews were able to live throughout the Middle East in peace – in their homelands of thousands of years – then we wouldn’t need an Israel. Seeing as all the Islamofascist states of that region has in effect expelled all Jews and now are expelling Christians, it seems separation is the only policy that will work – because Islamists are so bigoted and intolerant.
      In Israel, 10% are Arabs and they have equality in law – they even have Arab high court judges! They have a free press and a legal system which can and does find against the government. Compare please to corrupt Islamic dictatorship and their vile and disgusting media which spews jew-hatred day in day out, and publishing mocking cartoons about the holocaust on a daily basis.
      If the fight is between democrats with decent Western values and fascists who want to create hate and commit genocide, then I support the former (Israel). Very predictably peculiar that the idiot lefties – those ever-useful idiots (the same ones that made excuses for Communist brutalities) – support the fascists.

      • Dilyana Ivanova

        I’m sorry you love in cuckoo land Israel is an apartheid state

        • Aravis Tarkheena

          Read a book. There used to be hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Iran, Iraq, and other countries across the ME. Now there are virtually none.

      • Patrice

        I assure you jews are still living in their origin countries like Morocco, algeria.irak iran…and when ISREAL established on May 14, 1948 JEWS all over the world chose to move for occupying a land which isn’t thiers.people even come from Russia , Ethupia,poland…and EUROPE.so it seems that european jews are not able to live throughout europe also, since we find million in PALESTINE.it seems you are beliving propaganda to the heart.
        jews are living in every country of the world, and palestin is not a land for jews,since there are people ARABS/MUSLIMS AND CRISTIANS who are already living there.

        thanks for reading

  • Patrice
  • Augustus

    It seems now that Hamas support among Gazans is actually waning, and that Gazans themselves are beginning to support IS(IS), at least on Twitter and YouTube, and some Gazans are also active in IS(IS) forums, calling on the group to come to their aide in lieu of Hamas’ ineffectiveness:

    “We ask the caliphate to support the Salafis jihadis groups in Gaza with money and weapons. We don’t have enough strong men. We want your help, we want your help, we want you help… Those with the wrong way [Hamas] have the support of Iran and the Shiite, and we sit in our houses as women, without weapons. Our situation is bad. …We cannot get out [of Gaza] because of Egypt and we cannot fight here in Gaza because lack of resources.”

    • rtj1211

      Well, that would be a fine result for Israel, wouldn’t it? Get some even more nutty nutcases on their case, right outside their front door……..

  • Gwangi

    Our media and especially the BBC is disgustingly biased against Israel (the only democracy in that region which has many times been attacked by Islamofascists in neighbouring states wanting to destroy both it and all Jews) and for those whose beliefs are actually fascist, racist, totalitarian, undemocractic, vile, disgusting and violent – i.e. the so-called Palestinians.
    The whole situation in Gaza has been engineered by Islamic countries who have deliberately made conditions there bad. Why cannot they take all these refugees? They could – but they won’t. Much better to make the patsys in Gaza fire rockets at Israel from people’s houses – which are then bombed quite justifiably by Israel – and then the Islamophiliac press and the useful idiots of the Western Media blame Israel (for which read JEWS) for something which is ENTIRELY the fault of Muslims.

    Time to accept that if these Muslims were white and non-religious we would call them Nazis and terrorists; so the way the silly leftie useful idiots of the West support these facists is disgusting and startlingly think – for they and anyone not Muslim who wanted free speech and democratic society would be the first to be ‘put to the sword’ in the Islamic caliphate whose creation they are supporting. Hypocrite twerps. I hope all the terrorists in Gaza get vaporised by Israeli missiles – which are defensive; the offence is ALL from the socalled ‘Palestinian’ side.

    • rtj1211

      Things are rarely as simple as you make out.

      When two sets of people say: ‘It’s my land!’ ‘No it’s not, it’s mine’, you need third parties to draw up a settlement.

      When that settlement is not respected for the following 20 years, you have the recipe for resentment, hatred and violence.

      I’m afraid Israel is by far the dominant military power in the Middle East and it uses that to threaten any Muslim state developing anything. Iran has every right to conventional, civil nuclear power but Israel immediately says that they will be building a nuclear weapon. As Israel has more nukes than the UK and France combined I don’t see Iran firing nukes at israel anytime soon. It would be Mutually Assured Destruction. They are more interested in defending themselves against a potential israeli first strike.

      You really must educate yourself about military reality in the Middle East and stop being brainwashed by Israeli sob stories. There are some very, very nasty regimes in the Middle East, but there is no country in the Middle East that has remotely the military firepower of Israel, not to forget that the USA’s Special Relationship is not with the UK, it is with Israel……..

      Both sides have committed atrocities over the years, and if you can’t accept that, then you will get very angry as you cannot understand why the world plays itself out as it will…….

    • ilPugliese

      I think you’ll find that this represents the view of the population as a whole. They see it as a two sides who are as bad as each other.

  • Dilyana Ivanova

    Out of two evils IDF is far worse then Hamas

    • “Out of two evils IDF is far worse then Hamas”

      For those clueless, the Jewish exodus from the USSR included a sizable percentage of Communist Party members and/or agents, so take Dilyana’s observation with a grain of salt.

      Those Jewish Communist Party emigres are now operating within the Israeli government, procuring policies that harm the Zionist cause…

      For those unfamiliar with this subject, the “collapse” of the USSR in 1991 was a strategic ruse under the “Long-Range Policy” (LRP). What is the LRP, you ask? The LRP is the “new” strategy all Communist nations signed onto in 1960 to defeat the West with. The last major disinformation operation under the LRP was the fraudulent “collapse” of the USSR in 1991.

      The next major disinformation operation under the LRP will be the fraudulent collapse of the Chinese Communist government. When that occurs, Taiwan will be stymied from not joining the mainland.

      Now, take a look at what the Russian government ordered the Russian Ministry of Defense to keep on the masthead of its official newspaper…see if you notice something odd…


      “Krasnaya Zvezda” is Russian for “Red Star”, the official newspaper of Soviet and later Russian Ministry of Defense. The paper’s official designation is, “Central Organ of the Russian Ministry of Defense.” Note the four Soviet emblems next to the still existing Soviet era caption titled “Red Star”(!), one of the Soviet emblems including the image of Lenin, the man who removed the independent Russian nation from the map, supplanting it within the new nation called the USSR, a murderous one-party government that spread violence throughout the world in order to “liberate” the world, and bring into existence a one-world Soviet dictatorship! If the “collapse” of the USSR was real, then the “Red Star” caption, four Soviet emblems and Lenin’s image could not form the masthead of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s newspaper, due to their association with the Soviet Union and its ideals of world revolution. Imagine the official paper of the German Ministry of Defense is named “Das Third Reich”, where next to the caption are four Nazi emblems, one of the emblems sporting a profile of Adolph Hitler’s head!

      The fraudulent “collapse” of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Moscow & Allies, which explains why verification of the “collapse” was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

      Notice that not one political party in the West demanded verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the “alternative” media. When determining whether the “former” USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the “former” USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

      It gets worse–the West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested and detained the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior control the populations of the larger cities during the period of “Perestroika” (1986-1991)!

      There was no verification, de-Communization and de-mobilization.

      For more on the “Long-Range Policy”, read KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn’s books, “New Lies for Old” and “The Perestroika Deception” , the only Soviet era defector to still be under protective custody in the West:



      The following is an excellent brief three-page introduction to Golitsyn and his significance in understanding Communist long-range strategy:


  • BoiledCabbage

    Hamas seek their own death and anihilation. There can be no other rational conclusion.

  • “As long as Gaza feels ignored, isolated and abandoned, Hamas will continue to draw support”

    How is it that the media always manages to be 180 degrees wrong?

    How is it the media doesn’t know what this masthead tells us…


    The incessant, never-ending dueling between Hamas and Israel will be used by Arab governments to implement the next stage of their proxy war with Israel (and used to get rid of Hamas) …

    And everyone forgets the 1974 Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus (the 40th anniversary being Sunday, July 20 ironically enough, as tens of thousands demonstrate in European cites citing the evils of Israel), a real occupation, where Greek Cypriots were driven from their homes. In the case of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel never gave up her claim to those territories when the 1949 armistice was signed with her Arab neighbors. In fact, the term “Palestinian” was resurrected in 1963* by Arab governments as a means to continue the war with Israel via proxy, since Arab nations could never again wage a war of annihilation against Israel due to Israel’s acquisition of the atomic bomb that year.

    To operationalize the new Arab strategy, Israel had to acquire Gaza and the West Bank, hence the explanation for the intentionally botched Arab governments’ Six-Day War (1967), where, now get this, Egyptian land forces cross the demilitarized Sinai all the way up to Israel’s border and stops in its tracks there, waiting for the inevitable IDF response! For those not attuned to military tactics, that’s called intentional sabotage for the purpose of losing the war, thereby allowing for the implementation of a more subtle strategy to defeat the “Zionist entity”. Every time I hear that phrase I have to chuckle. Arab governments need new script writers!

    So, what’s next you ask? Watch for “Palestinians” renouncing a ‘two-state option’ for a ‘one-state option’, the excuses given (1) that they’re tired of incessant conflicts that only results in massive numbers of “Palestinian” deaths; buttressed by (2) the sudden memory recollection that, in fact, they are also Israeli citizens! Of course, a ‘one-state option’ will mean the electoral defeat of the Jewish state, exactly what the new Arab strategy was implemented for!

    However, there is one card Israel holds that can nullify the Arab governments’ new proxy strategy vis-a-vis Israel, and that is Israel affording world Jewry the right of Israeli citizenship! This should have been policy back in 1948, but maybe Israel was holding in reserve this checkmate move until it was really needed.

    By the way, the 40th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus is the 20th of this month (20 July – 18 August 1974). I can’t wait to hear the silence of (1) the Arab media; and (2) the media in the West.


    *History of Palestine:

    It was Emperor Hadrian who renamed the area Syria Palæstina, after the Second Jewish Revolt in 135 AD, merging the Roman provinces of Syria and Judea with several other formerly nominally independent territories…


    Before 135 AD, what is today Israel consisted of the nominally independent Jewish territory of Galilee and the Roman administered province of Judea, contradicting Arab governments’ propaganda that those areas were ever called Palestine.

    The Roman Latin word ‘Palæstina’ means Philistia, the arch enemy of ancient Israel, whose people, defunct by the 7th century BC, inhabited the southwest corner of what is today Israel…


    Knowing the historical accounts of the animosity between the two peoples, Israelites and Philistines, Hadrian chose the disagreeable name ‘Palæstina’ as a slight against the Jews for their revolt against Rome.

    With the fall of Syria (inclusive of the region east of the Mediterranean Sea, west of the Euphrates River, north of the Arabian Desert and south of the Taurus Mountains) to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I in 1516, we have one province (though divided into various administrative districts by Selim I), where the citizens before the conquest of Selim I already call themselves Syrian…


    There never was a “Palestinian” nationality in the Ottoman Empire (“Palestinian” was a new nationality created by the League of Nations for the Jewish Homeland when the area was carved out of Ottoman Syria). The area of Ottoman Palestine was a part of the Ottoman province of Syria (akin to Central Park in New York City), where the inhabitants called themselves Syrian. That’s why after World War I Arabs living in Palestine wanted to merge the area with Syria…

    “The First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations (in Jerusalem, February 1919), which met for the purpose of selecting a Palestinian Arab representative for the Paris Peace Conference, adopted the following resolution: ‘We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.'” — Wikipedia, “Palestinian People”.


    The “Palestinian People” of today are a fiction, officially created at the first Arab League summit held in Cairo, Egypt in January 1964, where the Palestine Liberation was also created. The acquisition of the atomic bomb by Israel in 1963 spurred Arab governments to hold not only the league’s first summit in January of ’64 (the Arab League was founded in 1945), but its second summit that September in order to regroup and implement a new strategy towards Israel…



    After World War I the Allies/League of Nations demarcated areas of the former Ottoman Middle East for national homes of the various ethnic groups residing in the region. Arabs received what’s today called Syria, Iraq and Jordan; the Druze were provided with the defunct Jabal al Druze; the Alawites were provided with the defunct Alawite State; the Jews were provided Palestine (which territory under the Ottoman Empire was also composed of the southern half of Lebanon, ending just south of Beirut. After World War I the southern Lebanon portion was given to France, and Ottoman southern Syria was given to Britain and merged with the Palestine Mandate for the Jewish Homeland. One month later the British remove from the Jewish mandate the area of Palestine east of the Jordan River–Ottoman southern Syria–giving the area to Saudi Hashemites instead.); the Maronite Christians were provided with Lebanon. The Kurds and Armenians too were allotted their national homelands, but before the League of Nations could legalize the mandates, Turkish military forces moved back into those territories. Those Arabs living in the new mandated homeland for the Jews–Palestine–called themselves SYRIAN, and wanted to merge Palestine into the newly reconstituted nation of Syria; they detested the concept of a “Palestinian State” for Jews and Arabs, because the new “Palestinian” nationality included Jews who would have the upper hand, naturally, in the future new Jewish nation.

    As the successor organization to the League of Nations, the UN initially followed the League of Nations Palestine Mandate of 1922, and the territory of Palestine under the mandate includes Gaza and the West Bank. The non-binding 1947 UN Resolution 181 sought to divide Palestine into two states, one for the Jews, and one for the Arabs, which the Jews accepted, but Arab governments rejected…


    Note: Arab GOVERNMENTS rejected, not Arabs living in Palestine!

    Note that UN Resolution 181 mentions a state for the Jews and a state for the Arabs. Nowhere in the document does it mention a state for the “Palestinians”. Why? Because there was no indigenous Arab Palestinian ethnic group, simply the existing new Palestinian nationality that was created by the League of Nations in 1922 for the Jewish Homeland…

    “Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem, set forth in Part III of this Plan, shall come into existence in Palestine two months after the evacuation of the armed forces of the mandatory Power has been completed but in any case not later than 1 October 1948. The boundaries of the Arab State, the Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem shall be as described in Parts II and III below.”

    UN Resolution 181 mentions “Jewish” for the ethnic Jews of Palestine, but not Palestinian for the ethnic Arabs of Palestine. It calls Arabs–Arabs, and the League of nations created many Arab nations in the former Ottoman Middle East after World War I, where Gaza and West Bank Arabs can move to if they don’t like Israel. That’s precisely why so many nations were created by the League of Nations in the Middle East after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire–to act as a remedy for persecuted groups. Why would Arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank want to be persecuted and killed in large numbers there, when they can move to neighboring kindred Arab nations? Oh, I forgot. Those kindred Arab neighbors won’t allow such relocation, because that would (1) be a recognition of Israel’s right to exist; and (2) make Israel stronger.

  • My_old_mans_a_dustman

    If the love of the people is the queen’s best protection, then so it is Israel’s best protection.

    The sooner they start working towards that goal the sooner they will have peace.

  • Ann Droid