During a lull in the Israeli assault, Middle East Eye spoke to several residents of the Gaza Strip to find out their views on the war. Othman Swaliem, a 38 years old taxi driver, gave this response:
I never liked Hamas, because I disagree with their approach to ending conflict, but I am afraid we could not achieve our rights through other methods. Israel failed Abbas in negotiations and empowered Hamas by making people like me see them as the only option for changing a grim reality. The siege is killing people like me who need to feed 8 children. Now, Hamas sacrifices their lives and are owed our respect for trying the new approach – which is armed struggle – to end Israel’s siege and open the borders to freedom.
Islamic Jihad has always been a good fighter in the field. I’ve never had problems with them. They are softer than Hamas, but their relationship with Egypt will open doors for Hamas in Egypt, after being shut by Sisi after Morsi was pushed out.
As for Abbas, I wish he’d pay more attention to people like us who are lost in 7 years of siege and Palestinian factional divides. I understand he did his best with Israel, offering so many compromises. But, my advice to him is that he dismantles the PA and tells the world, ‘We are finished and occupying Israel must assume responsibility for providing services. If you keep an animal in a zoo, you are obliged to take care of it. You can’t just leave it to starve and die.’
When Egypt is mentioned I can’t help but see the image of Sisi. He’s done so much damage to us, bringing us to a strangulation point, because some of us stood and cheered for Morsi. I am personally being punished, because before Sisi ordered closure of the Rafah crossing, I did two or three trips from Gaza City to Rafah to meet international visitors arriving with money to spend here and new faces that brought a few smiles here among the depression. None of that exists today. Egypt carries the responsibility. I can’t say I am outwardly angry with them, but I remain silently unhappy, because although revolution ended an era of tyranny in Egypt, that tyranny has expanded to us through Israel and Egyptian regimes working together. I wish we could have back the old Egypt which we loved.