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Israel and Gaza

Hamas’s iron grip on Gaza

Palestinians queuing for food in Gaza last month. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty

Many Israeli politicians have blamed Hamas’s crimes on all Gazans, says Bobby Ghosh in Bloomberg, and thus proposed collective punishment. One junior government minister “implied that dropping an atom bomb on the strip was an option”. The Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, said Gazans “could have risen up” against the “evil regime” that governs the territory. But that’s easier said than done. Hamas won the last election held in Gaza and the West Bank, in 2006, by heavily emphasising the “deeply corrupt and inept government” of Fatah, the faction then in charge of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas and Fatah “fought pitched battles” over the result, and “when the dust settled in 2007”, Hamas controlled Gaza, and Fatah the West Bank.

Hamas soon proved “as venal and incompetent” in government as Fatah, and “cemented its control” over Gaza by systematically eliminating all opposition via abduction, torture and murder. It maintains a “network of spies, informers and enforcers”; dissenters are invariably labelled as being “in cahoots with Israel”. And with the strip sealed off from the world by an Israeli blockade, Hamas also dominates the economy. “It decides how foreign aid is doled out, and its leaders siphon out large sums into an international portfolio of investments.” Any Gazans who oppose Hamas “risk their lives and livelihoods”. All the wider world offers them is “unreasonable expectations”.