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December 18, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 11024

Growing Criticism Of Hamas And Its Officials By Gaza Residents: They Brought A Needless War Upon Us; Our Lives Are Worthless In Their Eyes; We Yearn To See The End Of Hamas

December 18, 2023
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 11024

As the war in Gaza continues and Hamas' control of the enclave continues to slip, Gaza residents are growing bolder in expressing overt protest and criticism against Hamas. This criticism is expressed mainly on social media, but sometimes also in coverage by television networks reporting the events in Gaza. Gazan civilians accuse Hamas of pursuing a failing policy, of initiating a "needless" war that has brought only death and destruction upon them, and of stubbornly continuing this war despite the terrible cost in civilian lives. They also accuse Hamas' leaders of spreading boastful rhetoric completely disconnected from the reality on the ground,  and of placing no value on the lives of the Gazans, whom they are recklessly endangering. In addition, criticism is voiced against the Hamas fighters for hiding among  civilians and using them as human shields, while the Hamas authorities provide the civilians with no shelter, nor even with the basic needs of life. In fact, say the Gazans, Hamas operatives steal the limited humanitarian aid that enters the Gaza Strip every day and is intended for the civilians, and use it for themselves or else sell it to the populace at exorbitant prices.[1]


Hamas operatives seize a truck carrying humanitarian aid from the UAE (image: Twitter.com/SufianSamarrai, December 17, 2023)

This report presents some of the criticism voiced against Hamas and its officials by Gaza residents.

Hamas Disregards The Lives Of Gazans And Recklessly Endangers Them

Many Gazans slammed Hamas for disregarding the lives and the safety of the local residents by starting the war and hiding its operatives among the civilian population. Some of this criticism comes in response to blunt statements made by Hamas officials. For example, Moussa Abu Marzouq, the deputy head of Hamas' political bureau abroad, said in an October 27 interview that Hamas' tunnels are meant to protect Hamas fighters from airstrikes, not civilians, and added that responsibility for the safety of the Gazan civilians rests with Israel and the UN.[2] Hamas Political Bureau head Isma'il Haniya said on October 26, 2023 that Hamas "needs" the blood of many Gazan civilians – women, children and elderly –"because  it awakens within us the revolutionary spirit."[3]

Our Lives Are Worthless In Your Eyes; How Do You Expect Us To Keep Silent?

Some Gaza residents criticized the fact that the prisoner-exchange deal between Israel and Hamas – in which a temporary ceasefire was declared and terrorists incarcerated in Israel were released in return for the release of Israeli hostages – was attained by means of a deadly war that cost the lives of so many civilians. Writing on her X account on December 29, user "Sara" addressed Hamas' leader in Gaza Yahya Al-Sinwar and wrote: "Do all the flowers in your garden have to wither in order to save one? Are you a madman, that you burn me just to win [this war] and then ask me to keep silent? Is it treason to ask you to let us live? How is it that our lives are worthless in your eyes? Why are the lives of those who were with you in prison[4] more precious than my family and my property?"[5]

In another post from December 5, 2023, Sara wrote: "Stop [telling] us how many [Israeli] vehicles you blew up.[6] We want to know how many shelters you have provided, because we getting fed up with you and with your speeches and your words… Not even the minimal necessities exist anymore. Tell us what you think. What are your plans for the future? Our people is drawing closer to Sinai, not to Al-Aqsa. What are you planning for what comes after?"[7]


Sara's November 29 post

Similar sentiments were expressed on December 5 by user Seba M Jaafarawi: "[Hamas,] do not expect me to defend the home front when you withhold from me even the most minimal protection for my life and the life of my family. Allah is enough for us and how good it is to rely on Him…"[8]


Seba M Jaafarawi's post

Gazan In Deir Al-Balah Hospital: Hamas Operatives Hide Among The Civilian Population; They Can Go To Hell

During a November 5, 2023 live broadcast from Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the Gaza Strip, which aired on Qatar's Al-Jazeera Network, an elderly wounded man criticized Hamas for hiding among the civilian population, and told them to "go to Hell and hide there."

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click below:

Hamas Operatives Steal Humanitarian Aid Intended For Civilians

Another issue that has infuriated the Gazans is Hamas fighters' theft of the humanitarian aid that is coming into the Strip during the war and is intended for the civilian population.

Elderly Gazan Woman: Hamas Operatives Commandeer The Humanitarian Aid And Take It Into Their Tunnels

During a December 6, 2023 live broadcast, an elderly Palestinian woman standing outside Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis told a reporter for Qatar's Al-Jazeera network that Hamas operatives commandeer all the aid that is coming into the Gaza Strip and take it into their tunnels.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click below:

Gazan Facebook User: Hamas Police Officers Steal The Aid And Sell It At Exorbitant Prices

In a post he shared on November 26, Facebook user Othman Hussein claimed that Hamas not only steals the humanitarian aid, but later sells it to the public at exorbitant prices. He wrote: "The plot against the residents of the Gaza Strip is not only external [i.e. from Israel], but also internal. The gas stations and the cooking gas depots are full, yet despite this, tens of thousands of suffering people have been queuing in front of the stations since the first day of the ceasefire, to no avail. The [Hamas] police are summoned to beat these people with clubs. The police take as much fuel as they want for themselves and their associates, and as much as they need for commercial purposes, [namely, in order] to sell it at five times the usual price. Then they leave, having accomplished their national mission… Anyone who thinks that I am exaggerating should go to these stations and see for themselves what is happening to the people. Oh resistance, is this what the home front [looks like]?"[9]

In another post, from  November 28, Hussein wrote: "…The Hamas movement is responsible for the destruction of the home front, namely its popular support base. It ignores the cries of the oppressed, and the curses and denunciations [voiced by the Gazans] against those who have placed them in this demeaning and humiliating situation."[10]


Othman Hussein's November 26 post

Hamas Officials Are Unqualified And Out Of Touch With Reality, Should Be Deposed

Some of the criticism was directed explicitly at the Hamas top leaders, such as Political Bureau head Isma'il Haniya; the head of the Political Bureau abroad, Khaled Mash'al; Political Bureau head deputy-Saleh Al-Arouri, and the head of the Political Bureau in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar. They were accused of pursuing a failed policy detrimental to the Palestinians.

Gazan Residents: Hamas Leaders Khaled Mash'al And Islam'il Haniya Destroyed This City

Especially blunt criticism is heard in a video that aired November 9 on the Syrian opposition channel Orient TV. In the video two residents of the Al-Shati refugee camp, who are evacuating from the northern Gaza Strip to the south, openly curse Hamas leaders Isma'il Haniya and Khaled Mash'al, calling them "collaborators" and accusing them of destroying Gaza. 

To view a MEMRI TV clip of this video, click below.

Another example is a December 7 post by Gazan user "Mohammed," who criticized the appointment of released prisoners such as Al-Arouri and Al-Sinwar to high-ranking positions in Hamas instead of people with experience and ability. He shared a photo of these two figures and wrote: "What is happening is a natural outcome of [people] gaining [prominence] within the [Hamas] organization based on their record in the struggle… while [others], who have more talent, ability and experience, are excluded. After the war, all the released prisoners [hinting at Al-Sinwar and Al-Arouri] must be dismissed from the leadership. Released prisoners, with all due respect for them, should stay home and not lead the country…"[11]   


Mohammed's post

Hamas' leaders abroad were also accused of being out of touch with the condition of the people in the Strip and with reality in general. User Samir Alshaar wrote on Facebook on December 6: "[Hamas official] Osama Hamdan shouts that Gaza is a graveyard for the invaders. Can it be that he thinks the people of Gaza are the invaders[?]!!!"[12]

Hamas' leaders were lambasted for bragging and boasting while the reality on the ground bears no resemblance to what they say. An example of such boasting is a post by Ibrahim Al-Madhun, a senior Hamas official abroad and an analyst who frequently posts bombastic Hamas propaganda. He recently predicted a glorious victory for Hamas in the current war, writing: "Hamas will survive and will liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque. [Yahya] Al-Sinwar and [the commander of Hamas' military wing], Muhammad Deif, will enter Jerusalem praising Allah and saying 'Allah akbar.' [Hamas' military spokesman] Abu Obeida will declare the victory, [Khaled] Mash'al will welcome delegations of the blessed [Islamic] nation, and the people of Gaza will stand along the road to welcome their leaders and crown them with honor and pride…"[13] User "Adham Na'eem #Gaza" responded to this post with a sardonic comment: "Stay in Turkey  and spare us your invented notions."[14]


Adham Na'eem's post in response to Ibrahim Al-Madhoun's

Hamas Is Waging A Needless War; It Is An Iranian Proxy That Is Occupying Gaza

Some social media users accused Hamas of starting a needless war that brought nothing but death and destruction upon Gaza. These posts also questioned the legitimacy of Hamas' rule in Gaza and claimed that the locals despise it. User Muhammad Imad wrote on November 30: "We have two occupying [powers] in Gaza: the loathsome, criminal and inhuman Israeli occupation, and an Iran-Hamas occupation that has no mercy for the people. The Americans and Iranians are playing a political game and using their military bases to show their force. The American base is so-called Israel, and the Iranian base is Iran's servants in Gaza: Hamas and the [Palestinian Islamic] Jihad. The Palestinians [themselves] are the victims."[15]

Most People In Gaza Want To See The End Of Hamas

In another post, from  December 5, Muhammad Imad wrote: "To be honest, the greatest wish of the Palestinian in Gaza is for this needless death to stop and for Hamas to end. You can hear this wish from most of the people in Gaza, [if you just] give them a media [platform] where they can speak freely, and guarantee that Hamas doesn't kill them…"[16]


Muhammad Imad's December 5 post

User Roula Marwan posted in a similar vein on December 6: "Here's a question: What is Hamas waiting for to stop the war?!"[17]


Roula Marwan's post

In a November 19 post user Gazzawe ("Gazan") likewise slammed Hamas for starting the war. Noting that the movement released 50 Israeli hostages in return for a temporary ceasefire, he asked, "then why take them hostage in the first place?"[18] 

 

[1] It should be noted that Gazan civilians voiced criticism of Hamas even before the war, complaining of its ineffectual, corrupt and tyrannical rule and of the disconnect between the people of Gaza and the Hamas leaders abroad, who live in luxury and care nothing for the lives of the Gazans. See MEMRI reports: Special Dispatch No. 10425 — Saudi News Website: Hamas Leader Isma'il Haniya's Sons Are Corrupt, Have Extravagant And Hedonistic Lifestyles, January 17, 2023; Special Dispatch No. 9665 – Gaza Journalist: Hamas, Islamic Jihad Officials Voice Belligerent Slogans, Ignoring Gazans' Difficult Circumstances, And Seek To Advance Their Own Personal Interests, December 7, 2021; Inquiry and Analysis No. 1604 – Economic, Social Protests Against Hamas Flare Up Again In Gaza: 'We Want To Live'; The Economic Hardship Has Become Intolerable; Hamas Officials Are Out Of Touch With The People, November 15, 2021; Inquiry and Analysis No. 1597 – Munitions Cache Explosion At Gaza Market Sparks Renewed Internal Criticism Of Hamas' 'Contempt For Human Life', August 26, 2021; See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7964 – Hamas Members, Supporters Criticize Its Suppression Of Economic And Social Protests In Gaza, March 26, 2019.

[4] Al-Sinwar was incarcerated in Israel in 1989-2011.

[5] Twitter.com/ssarrah_2, November 29, 2023.

[6] This is an allusion to the announcements regularly issued by the Hamas military wing reporting the number of Israeli tanks and armored vehicles it allegedly destroyed and the number of Israeli soldiers it allegedly killed.

[7] Twitter.com/ssarrah_2, December 5, 2023.

[8]  Facebook.com/100042263093586, December 5, 2023. The post was later deleted from the account.

[9] Facebook.com/Othman.Hussein1963, November 26, 2023.

[11] Twitter.com/arkan849, December 7, 2023.

[12] Facebook.com/100093691634328, December 6, 2023. The reference is to a comment made by Hamdan in a press conference in Beirut. T.me/hamasps, December 3, 2023.

[13]  Twitter.com/ibmadhun, December 2, 2023.

[14] Twitter.com/adhamnaeem1, December 2, 2023.

[15] Twitter.com/moh_re21, November 30, 2023.

[16] Twitter.com/moh_re21, December 5, 2023.

[17] Twitter.com/RolaMarwanAlag1, December 6, 2023.

[18] Twitter.com/palestiniangaz, November 19, 2023.

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