Hamas is losing support from ordinary people in Gaza who suffer the human cost of war

Hamas is losing support from ordinary people in Gaza who suffer the human cost of war

In the Gaza Strip, a heart-wrenching scene unfolds as a Palestinian woman, upon seeing her slain son’s body, directs her fury not at the Israelis who killed him, but at Hamas. “I hope that God will destroy you, Hamas, like you destroyed our children,” she screams, her voice filled with anguish. Her companion, startled, tries to silence her, insisting the teenager died a martyr, and quickly ushers her away. This moment, captured by NBC News, reflects a growing sentiment among Gazans: frustration and anger towards Hamas.

Nearly nine months after Hamas’ October 7 attacks on Israel, which resulted in 1,200 deaths and around 250 hostages, the people of Gaza are increasingly vocal about their discontent with the Islamist group that has ruled the enclave since 2007. Dissent, once rare and risky, is now more visible amidst the chaos and despair of war.

Hamas’ popularity has plummeted since the October 7 attacks. A poll conducted in May by the West Bank-based Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD) revealed that only about a fifth of Gazans support the attacks, down from nearly half in November. The same poll showed that Hamas’ support in Gaza has dwindled to about a quarter of the population, as the death toll since October 7 has surpassed 38,000, according to Palestinian health officials.

Nader Said, president of AWRAD, noted that Hamas’ popularity is declining among those living in shelters and makeshift communities. This sentiment is echoed in a viral video of Muhammad Judeh, an academic, who, covered in blood, denounces Hamas’ leadership as “filthy” and accuses them of being accustomed to bloodshed. His outburst, met with worried faces in the crowd, underscores the growing discontent.

Hamas, established in the late 1980s, has ruled Gaza with an iron fist for nearly two decades, often accused by advocacy groups like UN Watch, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch of torture, beatings, and solitary confinement. Their frequent bombings of Israel have provoked severe retaliations, resulting in tens of thousands of Palestinian deaths.

Despite never enjoying overwhelming popularity in Gaza, Hamas’ hardline stance has set them apart from the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, recognizes Israel, and is seen by many Hamas supporters as collaborators. AWRAD’s May polling data from the West Bank shows that while Hamas’ popularity has declined in Gaza, it has surged in the West Bank, where many view the group as a stronger force against Israel.

However, Hamas’ resistance has come at a significant cost to Gazans. The group is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, and its takeover of Gaza in 2007 led to a blockade by Israel and Egypt, aimed at applying economic pressure and limiting items that could be used to make weapons.

Inside Gaza, Hamas has tolerated little dissent from the over 2 million residents. Itaf Al-Hamran, a feminist and opposition activist displaced from Rafah, criticizes Hamas’ governance over the past 17 years, citing a lack of planning and unjust control over work opportunities and the economy. She blames Hamas for launching the October 7 attacks without the population’s consent or adequate preparation for the inevitable Israeli response.

“We refuse to continue the war over our kids’ and women’s bodies and blood,” Al-Hamran said. “Today Hamas has taken us 70 years back.”

The sentiment of frustration and anger towards Hamas is growing among ordinary Gazans who bear the brunt of the human cost of war. As the conflict continues, the voices of those suffering under Hamas’ rule are becoming louder, demanding change and accountability.

Source: NBC News, AP, AFP, Getty Images

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