September 19, 2014
"If Hamas does not like you for any reason all they have to do now is say you are a Mossad agent and kill you." — A., a Fatah member in Gaza.
"Hamas wanted us butchered so it could win the media war against Israel showing our dead children on TV and then get money from Qatar." — T., former Hamas Ministry officer.While the world's media has been blaming Israel for the death of Gazan civilians during Operation Protective Edge, this correspondent decided to speak with Gazans themselves to hear what they had to say.
"They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did." — D., Gazan journalist.
"Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot. That way peoplehad to stay in their homes, even if they were about to get bombed. Hamas held the whole Gazan population as a human shield." — K., graduate student
"The Israeli army allows supplies to come in and Hamas steals them. It seems even the Israelis care for us more than Hamas." — E., first-aid volunteer.
"We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation… We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money. We miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here." — S., graduate of an American university, former Hamas sympathizer.
They spoke of Hamas atrocities and war crimes implicating Hamas in the civilian deaths of its own people.
Although Gazans, fearful of Hamas's revenge against them, were afraid to speak to the media, friends in the West Bank offered introductions to relatives in Gaza. One, a renowned Gazan academic, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that as soon as someone talked to a Western journalist, he was immediately questioned by Hamas and accused of "communicating with the Mossad". "Hamas makes sure that the average Gazan will not talk to Western journalists -- or actually any journalists at all," he said, continuing:
"Hamas does not want the truth about Gaza to come out. Hamas terrorizes and kills us just like Daesh [ISIS] terrorizes kills Iraqis. Hamas is a dictatorship that kills us. The Gazans you see praising Hamas on TV are either Hamas members or too afraid to speak against Hamas. Few foreign [Western] journalists were probably able to report what Gazans think of Hamas."
When asked what Gazans did think of Hamas, he said:
"The same as Iraqis thought of Saddam before he was toppled. He still won by 90-something percent in the presidential elections. If Hamas falls today in Gaza, people here will do what Iraqis did to Saddam's statue after he fell. But even though Western journalists may not have been able to speak freely with Gazans, they still need a story to send to their editor by the end of the day. So it is just easier and safer for them to stick to the official line."
"What was that," I asked: "'Blame Israel'?"
"I don't know about that," he said. "More like, 'Never blame Hamas!'. Hamas was making a 'statement': Opposing Hamas Means Death. Hamas is a dictatorship that kills us."
M., a journalist, confirmed his view. "I do not believe any of the people Hamas killed in the last weeks were Israeli spies," he said. "Hamas has killed many people for criticizing it, and claimed they were traitors working for Israel during the war."
That conversation took place four weeks before Hamas killed 21 alleged "Israeli Mossad agents."
D, a store owner, said:
"Taha was already in Hamas's jail before Israeli operations started. Hamas imprisoned him and tortured him because he was critical of its radical policies. He had warned Hamas not to cooperate with Qatar and Iran. Eye-witnesses said they saw Hamas militants bring him alive into the yard of Shifa hospital in Gaza and shoot him dead. They kept mutilating his body in front of viewers and little children and left it on the hospital's yard for a few hours before allowing the staff to take it to the morgue.""There were two major protests against Hamas during the third week of the war. When Hamas fighters opened fire at the protesters in the Bait Hanoun area and the Shijaiya, five were killed instantly. I saw that with my own eyes. Many were injured. A doctor at Shifa hospital told me that 35 were killed at both protests. He went and saw their bodies at the morgue."To verify those reports, I spoke to a second Gazan academic, who holds a PhD. from a Western university, who stated:
"Hamas did kill protesters, no doubt about that. But we could not confirm how many were actually killed. If I have to guess, the number was more than reported. I am confident that not all of the 21 men Hamas killed on August 22 were collaborating with Israel. Hamas killed those men because it was weakened by Israel's attacks and felt endangered. So it went on a 'Salem Witch-Hunt.' They arrested everyone who opposed them and had to make a few examples to scare people from standing against Hamas. Hamas's tactic worked. Now Gazans are afraid to talk against Hamas even in front of their own family members. Gazans are probably afraid to criticize Hamas even in their sleep!"As already reported by the award-winning journalist, Khaled Abu Toameh, Hamas killed one of its leaders, Ayman Taha, and blamed Israel for it.
Asked about Abu Toameh's report, S., a Gazan political activist said:
A., a Fatah member in Gaza, spoke over Skype -- fearful that Hamas was intercepting phone lines:
"Even before the Israeli operation began, Hamas rounded up 400 of our members and other political-opposition figures. I would not be surprised if Hamas kills them all and then claims they were killed in an Israeli bombing. Hamas already beheaded a man known for opposing its views on the 22nd day of the war, then reported on its Facebook page that he was caught sending intelligence information to Israel. If Hamas does not like you for any reason, all they have to do now is claim you are a Mossad agent and kill you."
S. a medical worker, said:
"The Israeli army sends warnings to people [Gazans] to evacuate buildings before an attack. The Israelis either call or send a text message. Sometimes they call several times to make sure everyone has been evacuated. Hamas's strict policy, though, was not to allow us to evacuate. Many people got killed, locked inside their homes by Hamas militants. Hamas's official Al-Quds TV regularly issued warnings to Gazans not to evacuate their homes. Hamas militants would block the exits to the places residents were asked to evacuate. In the Shijaiya area, people received warnings from the Israelis and tried to evacuate the area, but Hamas militants blocked the exits and ordered people to return to their homes. Some of the people had no choice but to run towards the Israelis and ask for protection for their families. Hamas shot some of those people as they were running; the rest were forced to return to their homes and get bombed. This is how the Shijaiya massacre happened. More than 100 people were killed."Another Gazan journalist, D., said:
"Hamas fired rockets from next to homes. Hamas was running from one home to another. Hamas lied when it claimed it was shooting from non-populated areas. To make things even worse for us, Hamas would fire from the balconies of homes and try to drag the Israelis into door-to-door battles and street-to-street fights -- a death sentence for all the civilians here. They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did. They are cowards. If Hamas militants are not afraid of dying, why do they run after they fire rockets from our homes? Why don't they stay and die with us? Are they afraid to die and go to heaven? Isn't that what they claim they wish?"
Hamas boasted that Palestinian civilians were killed while Hamas's terrorists remained alive, hiding in their underground bunkers and tunnels. (Image source: Hamas video screenshot)
K, another graduate student at an Egyptian university who had gone to Gaza to see his family but was unable to leave after the war started, said on July 22:
"When people stopped listening to Hamas orders not to evacuate and began leaving their homes anyway, Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot without being asked any questions. That way Hamas made sure people had to stay in their homes even if they were about to get bombed. God will ask Hamas on judgment day for those killers' blood."
I asked him if Hamas used people as "human shields." He said: "Hamas held the entire Gazan population as a human shield. My answer to you is yes."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the press on September 6 that Hamas had killed 120 Fatah members who broke the curfew.
T., a former Hamas Ministry officer, said: "Hamas fires from civilian areas for a good reason: The Israelis call the civilians and give them ten minutes to evacuate. This gives Hamas time to fire another rocket and run away."
Why, I asked, did Hamas not allow people to evacuate?
For full report click this link: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4706/gazan-hamas-war-crimes