Exactly a year has passed since Hamas took over Gaza through the use of force and Kalashnikov rifles; the group’s position in the Strip is stronger and more well-established than ever – despite the heavy casualty toll, the ongoing siege, and the suffering and distress that have turned the lives of residents to hell on earth.
Hamas established itself in Gaza and became the sovereign; the legitimate ruler. The anarchy that raged in the Strip in the first months disappeared as if it never happened. They don’t even fire celebratory shots in weddings anymore. Hamas took over the universities, trade bureaus, the media, public institutions, and the Gaza population.
Hamas imposed its hegemony through a dictatorial rule that does not allow for the possibility of a rebellion or even a voice of protest. There is no opposition.
Gaza 2008 is a reality bordering on the impossible: 70% of the 1.3 million residents are welfare recipients whose lives depend on various aid organizations. About 60% make less than $2 a day and live below the poverty line.
There is no proper drinking water and the sewage system is overflowing. Half the population is below the age of 18 and devoid of any future. It is no surprise then that in recent polls in the Strip, 70% of respondents said they would prefer to live anywhere else on earth – just not in Gaza.
Israel sends humanitarian aid, and the goods that do not pass through the Karni or Sufa crossings – including cigarettes and various types of cheese - are smuggled into Gaza via the Rafah tunnels.
European states pay for the fuel needed to operate power stations, and the Hamas government charges residents for the unstable electricity supply. The refugees receive assistance from the United Nations, while Mahmoud Abbas and the Fayyad government finance the healthcare and education system.
Depending on charity of othersFayyad is also the one who pays Israeli company Dor Energy for the fuel, while also paying the monthly salaries of 78,000 Gazans who used to work at Palestinian Authority institutions, even though they’re unemployed at this time.
Iran covers all of the Hamas government’s expenses, including military expenditures. Donation money from Gulf states is used by Hamas for welfare purposes, and those who do not receive aid from the UN or from Hamas get food stamps from international organizations.
Yet while Strip residents beg for alms, Hamas is preoccupied with the only thing that truly interests it: The military buildup – setting up an orderly military establishment that includes divisions, regiments, companies, and professionalization of designated corps.
Today, Hamas’ army already comprises roughly 16,000 fighters and is based on the Hizbullah model. Many of these fighters leave through the Rafah tunnels and undergo military training in Iran and in Syria.
So Hamastan is celebrating its 1st birthday, and this is its face: A dictatorial and violent terror state that depends on the charity of others.