Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Gaza Strip, previously under the occupation of the British Mandate for Palestine, came under Egyptian occupation. In 1948, the Arab League established the All-Palestine Government; however, in 1959, the All-Palestine Government was dissolved by Egypt. During this period, Gazans lived under Egyptian military occupation and political activity was seriously suppressed.
During the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel gained control of the Gaza Strip. In the early years of Israeli control, existing structures of administration in Gaza were kept; however, Israel oftentimes interfered in order to curtail violent activity. Armed struggle against Israel peaked between 1969-1971. By the early 1970s, 90 percent of those targeted by Palestinian terrorism were actually Palestinian Arabs employed by Israeli companies.
After a Jewish family was murdered in the early 1970s, confrontations between the Israeli army and Palestinians intensified, eventually leading to the First Intifada in 1987. In 1993, in accordance with the signed Oslo Accords, Gaza came under the jurisdiction of the newly-established Palestinian Authority.
In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip. In 2006, the paramilitary/terrorist Islamist group Hamas won a surprise victory in the first (and only) elections held in Gaza. This led to an armed conflict between Hamas and fellow Palestinian group Fatah, resulting in up to 600 deaths. Following the Hamas victory, Israel and Egypt coordinated a blockade of the Strip; this blockade was made permanent in 2007 after Hamas continuously aimed missiles at Israeli civilians.
WHO IS HAMAS?
Hamas is the Sunni-Islamist fundamentalist organization that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas has a social service wing and a military wing. Numerous countries across the world consider Hamas and/or its military wing a terrorist organization. Hamas was founded in 1987 as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is also considered a terrorist organization in various nations, including nations in the Middle East.
The 1988 Hamas Charter is openly antisemitic, so much so that the Anti-Defamation League describes it as reading like “a modern-day Mein Kampf.” Article 22, for example, blames Jews for just about every calamity in history dating back to the French Revolution. Article 7 calls for the complete annihilation of the Jewish People. Article 32 references The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a virulently antisemitic text that influenced Hitler. Hamas openly denies the Holocaust.
Hamas has taken responsibility for thousands war crimes and crimes against humanity, targeting both Israelis and Palestinians, including suicide bombings, indiscriminate missiles fired at civilians, kidnappings, torture, and more.
Though Hamas depicts itself to the west as a grassroots resistance group fighting the Israeli occupation, in 2018 Forbes magazine reported that Hamas is the third richest terrorist organization in the world, with an annual income of about $700 million. Yet, the Gazan population suffers the highest unemployment rate in the world. Qatar is Hamas’ most significant financial sponsor. Hamas also functions as a proxy to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Over the past several years, the international community has donated billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. Hamas operatives have been caught diverting funds a number of times. The civilian population of Gaza barely sees a cent.
Many Hamas leaders live in mansions in Qatar.
To understand not just the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, but also the reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, it’s important to recognise that in addition to the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the Egyptian and Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, we are also dealing with two repressive, dictatorial regimes.
According to Freedom House, the Gaza Strip scores 11/100 (“not free”) on the freedom scale, and the West Bank scores 23/100 (“not free”) on the freedom scale, with 100 being fully free and 0 fully unfree. The Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders, classifies the situation for the press in the Palestinian Territories as “very serious.” For reference, the classifications are as follows: very serious, difficult, problematic, satisfactory, and good.
According to the Press Freedom Index, Gaza is “particularly inhospitable” for the free press, as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad not only control news output but also threaten the lives of journalists. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad often harass and obstruct journalists, and international journalists report threats to their lives if they dare to publish content outside of the official Hamas party line. Journalists suspected of collaborating with Israel are harassed, jailed, and tortured. Palestinian reporters that expose Hamas human rights abuses are also imprisoned and tortured. Hamas runs both Shehab News and the Al-Aqsa Media Network.
Al Jazeera — as well as AJ+ — is a Qatari state-run media outlet. Because it is state run, the Qatari government essentially exercises full control over what Al Jazeera does or does not publish. Notably, Qatar is accused of sponsoring terror groups worldwide, including Hamas. In 2010, a WikiLeaks article revealed that the Qatari government manipulates Al Jazeera’s coverage of events.
WHISPERED IN GAZA
The New York-based Center for Peace Communications has ran a series of interviews with ordinary Gazans who wish to speak out against Hamas rule, at enormous risk to themselves and their families. To protect their identities, their names have been changed, their voices have been altered, and the interviews are presented as animated shorts.
Please share far and wide. These brave individuals want the world to know the truth.
For a full bibliography of my sources, please head over to my Patreon.