Although Western propaganda portrays the Hamas takeover of Ghazzah as a coup against the legitimate power there, this is an exact inversion of the real situation. While the world’s attention turned to the West Bank and the politicking there after Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the Hamas government, people in Ghazzah were celebrating what many regarded as liberation from the oppression and exploitation of Fatah security officials, who were particularly known for their extortion from shopkeepers, businessmen and others, and for living well on the proceeds.
The ah-Ahram Weekly reported the relief of people like SalimAbu Murshid, a farmer, who plans to distribute melons from his harvest to all his family and neighbours in celebration. “From now on the security people won’t be able to stream from me,” he has been quoted as saying.
Hamas’s victory ended the breakdown of law and order that had blighted the territory while Fatah forces refused to cooperate with the elected Hamas government.
However, the Palestinians of Ghazzah are also aware that they are in a very difficult situation, and that Hamas, for all its goodwill, may struggle to improve things for them if Ghazzah remains isolated and under economic siege. Ghazzah is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with 1.5 million people living in an area of just 360 square kilometres. It issurrounded by Israel by land, air and sea, and thanks to the Paris Protocol between Israel and the PA in 1995 its economy is entirely dependent on Israel’s.
Even as the West was rewarding Abbas for his betrayal of Hamas, it was redoubling its economic pressure on Ghazzah. This includes the stopping of diesel fuel supplies to the area, including that required to run the power stations in the territory, As a result there is a possibility of the area soon being left without fuel, power and drinking water.
While conditions may improve in the West Bank, therefore, it is very likely that the Palestinians of Ghazzah will suffer even greater hardships as punishment for their continued support for Hamas in response to its much greater competence and probity of conduct.