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Middle east

How Hamas maintains its popularity among Gazans

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-11-20

As Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense pounds the Gaza Strip, Hamas continues to provide emergency aid and services, earning the respect of Gaza's beleaguered residents. FRANCE 24's Gallagher Fenwick and Moushira Jamal report from Gaza City.

The once bustling streets of Gaza City are mostly desolate these days as Gazans hide indoors. Except for the odd policemen stationed at various posts, Hamas is largely absent from Gaza City’s streets. But the Islamist government still has a handle on everyday affairs across the Strip.

In their familiar khaki waistcoats, volunteers for the Al Salama Association, a Hamas-affiliated charity, are hard at work, visiting medical facilities across the Strip in an effort to help those wounded by the Israeli strikes.

The volunteers do the rounds of hospitals, donating bags of basic goods and visiting injured patients.

“We do this while the government is busy with resistance. Right now it is focusing on security issues in Gaza,” explained Mossab Abdelmalek, director of the Al Salama Association.

Unity in the ranks

Outside the destroyed home of the Dalu family, a solitary bulldozer attempts to clear the rubble. Nine members of the Dalu family – including a seven-year-old boy – were killed Sunday when an Israeli missile wrecked the family’s three-storey home.

Not far away, a man is busy erecting a tent for the Dalu family’s funeral service - which took place Monday. “This is my business, I bring tents and chairs for events,” he explained. When asked who is covering the funeral service costs, he simply replied, “Hamas”.

The funeral itself was an emotional - and at times chaotic - affair with thousands thronging the streets as cries of “Allahu akbar” (Allah is Great) and “La ilaha il-Allah,” (Allah is the only one) filled the air.

As Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense continues to pound the densely populated Gaza Strip, Palestinian unity appears to get stronger by the day.

While the population of Gaza is overwhelmingly Muslim, the 40-kilometer-long Strip is also home to a Christian minority. Outside a residential building not far from a Hamas building, a Christian woman described the situation in her neighbourhood in halting English. “Yes, yes, we are united,” she said. “Our neighbours, all Muslim. So many Hamas, so many Fatah, all together.”

Barely six years ago, Hamas and Fatah, the two rival Palestinian parties, fought a fratricidal war for control of the Gaza Strip.

These days, there is a sense that this war has brought together a people who have been struggling to overcome their internal divisions.



Date created : 2012-11-20


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