Why aren't Palestinian children allowed to hide from bombs in tunnels?

Why aren't Palestinian children allowed to hide from bombs in tunnels?

ISTANBUL (Aftenposten): Palestinians in Gaza say they are desperately fed up with their leaders.

More than half of Gaza's population are children. They suffer from catastrophic humanitarian conditions, according to the United Nations.

“And now most of them have turned against Hamas.”

The message comes from a family man in his 40s via the Whatsapp messaging service. He is among 1.4 million Palestinians who have taken refuge in the crowded city of Rafah.

There, people fight a daily battle to find food and clean water. Emergency aid does not arrive and does not arrive. The fear that Israeli ground forces will soon move into this chaos is growing by the day.

Meanwhile, fighting continues between Israeli soldiers and Hamas in several places in the Gaza Strip. While the civilian population is bombed and starved by Israel, the complex network of tunnels that Hamas has built under the Gaza Strip provides effective protection against attacks by the leadership and fighters.

Now there are signs that civilians in Gaza are beginning to feel very fed up with the authorities.

Desperate Palestinians try to make their way through the queue at a bakery in Rafah to buy bread.

Desperate Palestinians try to make their way through the queue at a bakery in Rafah to buy bread.

Cash existed before the war

“There are many reasons for this. The most important is the bad results of the war and the destruction it caused in Gaza,” writes the father of the family in Rafah.

He believes that Hamas did not do enough to prepare people for war:

“People in Gaza do not believe that Hamas cares about them. They feel that Hamas has abandoned them to be killed, displaced and starved.”

It is currently impossible to determine how many Palestinians agree with him.

But dissatisfaction with Hamas is by no means new. It has been simmering under the surface for many years. Last summer, several thousand Palestinians participated in demonstrations against power outages and poor living conditions in the Gaza Strip. It is rarely taken. She added that Hamas responded by attacking the demonstrators and arresting them AP news agency.

It is still a marginal phenomenon

The brutal Israeli attacks, which began after Hamas stormed Israel on October 7, have intensified criticism from some.

However, historian and author Marti Heyan-Engdahl believes that for now this phenomenon should be treated as a fringe phenomenon.

– The suffering in Gaza is so great that it would be strange if part of the population did not also come to the conclusion that they curse Hamas for everything it has caused, says Hyan-Engdahl.

She confirms that many people did not vote for Hamas when they last had the opportunity, in 2006.

At the same time, even if the suffering caused by Hamas is indirectly, it is Israel that makes independent choices about how it wants to pursue and punish Hamas. It is these choices that create the greatest suffering, and I think that is the clear view of the majority.

Lot was fed up with the leaders

This opinion is confirmed by a number of Palestinians contacted by Aftenposten newspaper in Gaza. For their safety, we have chosen to anonymize the sources.

– This is a sensitive topic, says Lama, a young student from the central Gaza Strip.

She explains that she is still happy with what Hamas did something. It confirms that the Israeli occupation is responsible for things becoming what they are now.

– At the same time, we are tired of leaders who hide, she says.

Many of Hamas' senior leaders live a secure and often luxurious life outside the Gaza Strip, in countries such as Turkey and Qatar. This has long been a source of resentment among civilians in Gaza.

Recently, Abed Haniyeh's picture spread on Arab social networking sites. He is the son of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. While Palestinians in Gaza are starving and being bombed by Israel, Abed Haniyeh enjoys a soccer match in Qatar.

This creates strong reactions. But few dare to resist:

– People are afraid to organize demonstrations. They fear being punished by Hamas's security services, explains the father of the family in Rafah.

The Israeli army showed several underground tunnels discovered by ground forces in the Gaza Strip.  Down there, Hamas leaders and fighters can hide from Israeli bombs, while the civilian population has nowhere to run.

The Israeli army showed several underground tunnels discovered by ground forces in the Gaza Strip. Down there, Hamas leaders and fighters can hide from Israeli bombs, while the civilian population has nowhere to run.

Why doesn't Hamas do more?

Hamas knew full well what reaction it would provoke when it attacked Israel on October 7. So, people are now asking questions about why Hamas wasn't better prepared, says a man in his 50s:

-Why don't they provide more emergency aid? Why didn't they store enough food and supplies for civilians to survive the war?

Erik Sakkari is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oslo and an expert on several armed groups in Gaza. He points out that there are two different wings of Hamas with military and humanitarian responsibilities, and that there have long been sharp dividing lines between them.

– Very few people in the political leadership, responsible for humanitarian affairs, knew about the attack planned by the military wing. The question is to what extent they had the opportunity to prepare for this.

Why doesn't Hamas make more efforts to protect the civilian population now, for example by allowing Palestinian children to hide in tunnels under Gaza?

– Tunnels that Al-Qassam BrigadesAl-Qassam BrigadesThe Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the military arm of Hamas. User, is intended primarily for the military. It is intended to protect soldiers and commanders, and is also used offensively to attack Israeli forces. That civilians are not allowed in there is not surprising given the job they do. It is as if civilians were allowed into the Reina camp.

Was it worth it?

Scarry does not believe that dissatisfaction is a new phenomenon. He points out that during the 2014 war there were also protests because people thought Hamas did not take civilians into account.

Scarry believes that whether the extreme suffering in this war will lead to a greater uprising depends entirely on what the outcome will be.

Was Hamas able to lift the siege or secure a two-state solution? I think this is absolutely unimaginable. They may arrange an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for the remaining hostages. But if that's all they get for this whole war and its complete destruction of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians will probably wonder if it's worth it.

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Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

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