Hamas gunmen are using live ammunition and clubs to crack down on thousands of Gaza residents protesting horrendous living conditions, including a lack of electricity, high taxes levied on basic goods and poor health services.
Eyewitnesses on the ground are reporting through social media that Hamas militiamen gunning down and beating the demonstrators. Hamas is arresting journalists, and anyone caught taking pictures of their violent crackdown.
Protests have continued for three consecutive days in response to a youth movement’s call to hold Hamas responsible for the near collapse of Gaza’a economy and the hardships being suffered by the local population. “We want to live” is the slogan they are using to call the people of Gaza to rise up in protest against the iron-fisted Hamas control of the coastal enclave.
“Hamas is ruining our lives,” one young protester told Israel’s Army Radio. “No one seems to care about the people in Gaza who want to live in peace with the Israelis. It is time to hold Hamas authorities responsible for the deteriorating situation in Gaza,” he said.
The violent confrontations with Hamas are taking place all around the Gaza Strip in markets, town squares and in the heart of Gaza City. Demonstrators set tires on fire and flew banners against Hamas. This rare show of public opposition to jihadist group comes after Israel hit more than 100 Hamas targets in response to rockets fired on Tel Aviv Thursday night. On Friday, the so-called “March of the Return” weekly violent demonstrations along the border fence with Israel were, for the first time, cancelled in light of the growing social unrest.
Senior Palestinian Authority leader Hussein al-Sheikh expressed support for the protesters. “Gaza is rising up in the face of oppressors,” he posted on Twitter. In an attempt to distract from the public's frustration with its rule, Hamas has in recent days tried to organize demonstrations against the Palestinian Authority and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, but without success.
Hamas seized Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in a brief civil war in 2007. Since then, the terror group has maintained outright control of the Gaza Strip, but these unprecedented demonstrations signal that its iron grip might be loosening.