David Kenner writes: Why can’t the two sides reach a compromise? Why wouldn’t Hamas agree to an extension of the cease-fire, when its civilians and infrastructure are bearing the lion’s share of the damage?
And then you come to Gaza. The horror stories seek you out: The man living in a crowded United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) refugee camp who hasn’t had the money to repair his house since it was damaged in the 2012 war; the 7-year-old girl who interrupts an interview to interject that her father has been killed; the exhausted general manager of Shifa Hospital, who spoke mournfully about how his staff was performing surgeries in waiting rooms because all of the operating rooms were full.
These people all said that this war was easily the worst of the three conflicts with Israel since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007. And all of them maintained that Hamas should continue striking Israel until its demands are met.
For these Gazans, the roots of their support for Hamas lie in the fact that they simply have so little left to lose. Sitting in his office in Gaza City, Raji Sourani, the director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, ticks off the statistics showing how impoverished this tiny territory was even before the war: 50 percent unemployment, 80 percent of households below the poverty line, and 90 percent dependence on international organizations that provide food and aid.
“We have become a nation of beggars. That’s not us — we are a people with dignity and with pride,” he said. “If you want to have isolation from the outside world, bombing, [and] destruction … that means you want to create extremism. Chapeau [respect] for Hamas that we don’t have either [the Islamic State] or al Qaeda. It’s a miracle.” [Continue reading…]