Hamas loses grip on Gaza; uses threats to regain it

Posted: April 28, 2010 by Jonathan Boyko in Gaza, Hamas, Palestinians, Terrorism

Hamas men controlling Gaza - ready to use arms against own civilians As previously noted on this blog, Gazan Hamas has run into deep trouble which caused rift between it, other militant groups and Gazan population. Recent reports indicate more good news for Gaza’s citizens – at least, in the long run: according to Reuters, Hamas arrested several activists yesterday, for distributing anti-tight-grip leaflets:

An official of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) told Reuters several members were arrested late on Tuesday and set free on Wednesday.

The PFLP leaflets were the strongest public criticism yet of Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and has been clamping down on any behavior it sees as un-Islamic, while recently levying new taxes on the 1.5 million inhabitants.

"People are under huge pressure but they are also afraid to express themselves and we took the responsibility to voice their concerns," PFLP official Jamil Mezher told Reuters.

The leaflet warned Hamas to beware increasing pressure on the people in a way that could "push the community to rebel against these practices and even to explode in the faces of those responsible."

(Washington Post)

In an open letter to Hamas, the PFLP called upon Hamas to agree on several conditions:

1. New taxes on small shops, like falafel stands
2. Converting cars to taxis and levying large taxes on the owners
3. 60% tax on cigarettes
4. Confiscating private apartments owned by people outside Gaza and giving them to Hamas members
5. Restricting the activities on Gaza NGOs
6. Owners of apartments who had built (with permission) on government-owned lands now being taxed thousands of dollars
7. New taxes on groceries
8. Preventing many citizens from traveling outside Gaza
9. Restrictions on Gaza institutions and organizations
10. Violent and insulting treatment of Gaza citizens

(PalPress through Elder of Ziyon)

DESPITE THOSE BEING somewhat small events, they are of a kind unseen in Gaza since Hamas’ violent takeover. Hamas’ move of arrest and release is relatively uncommon as well, as several months ago the PLFP activists would be branded “Israeli spies” or “collaborators” and executed. Now, however, Ismail Haniyeh feels the pressure: he knows further executions of rival groups’ members would bring fighting to the streets. Now that his group has less power and arms – thanks to Egyptian brothers – he might even take some reconciliatory steps with fellow terror groups.

This development should not be taken lightly: Hamas controls Gaza with mighty armed fist. First signs of civil disobedience are good news for the citizens of Gaza in the long run, as they get closer to real freedoms. Hamas, however, feeling it would lose control, probably will resort to violence to impose its will on the civilians and kill off opposition.

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