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KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip—It is incredibly difficult for them to say so in public, but many Palestinians in Gaza are furious with Hamas, their de facto rulers who invited a brutal Israeli backlash by launching the Oct. 7 attacks.
The Daily Beast was told to stop reporting and forced to delete videos while working on this story, but we can report that residents of Gaza say they have been robbed, silenced, and betrayed by Hamas.
As lawlessness rises in the smoldering rubble of Gaza, one resident said Hamas operatives stole valuables from her and other women.
A 45-year-old female refugee told The Daily Beast that Hamas agents were instructing women to remove their gold jewelry and cellphones before reaching an Israeli checkpoint on Salah al-Din—the main road through the center of Gaza—warning that these items might be confiscated or cause problems during inspection.
“I don’t know if it was naive of us, but we complied and handed over our mobiles. I even removed my ring, like other women with their jewelry,” she said. “We easily passed through the checkpoint and continued walking north. Despite feeling exhausted, we realized we had been deceived into surrendering our belongings.”
“Hamas has lost support in Gaza.”
— Um Ahmed
When The Daily Beast was talking to a group of people about their attitude toward Hamas and their feelings about the prisoner swaps, an agent from the Interior Ministry in civilian clothes approached and asked us to stop the interviews and delete our recordings.
Another Hamas agent inside a hospital in Gaza also asked The Daily Beast to delete videos showing the crowds of injured people in a hospital corridor.
“There is no democracy in Gaza when you want to speak against Hamas or its de facto government. We fear they will arrest us during the war, or after the war if we spoke against them. They can easily kill us even, and tell the world we are spies,” said Hasan Ahmed, 39, who was in the hospital with his injured brother.
“My brother needs his bandages changed daily. They attend to some of their patients promptly, but when it comes to my brother, they change the bandages every two or three days. This has reached a point where maggots have emerged from the wound. I shouted at the nurses, creating chaos until they reluctantly changed the dressing. I have to repeat this process every two days to save my brother’s hand from amputation.”
Conditions outside the hospitals are also deteriorating, and Hamas is proving incapable of maintaining law and order amid difficult circumstances.
Salam Tareq, 33, said food costs had skyrocketed in the Tuffah neighborhood in eastern Gaza City and that he was unable to properly feed his family.
“The bakeries stopped operating. My children aren’t eating,” he said. “Thieves are spreading in our area. They are going to the evacuated houses, even the partially destroyed ones, and they steal everything possible. Canned food, wheat packages, gas cylinders, solar energy panels to sell in the market.”
He blamed Hamas for failing to prepare for the ramifications of its assault on Israel on Oct. 7.
“I want to know what Hamas’ plan was for this situation. People lost their houses by Israeli strikes and have now lost their remaining belongings to thieves,” he said. “Even inside Gaza City, thieves are using knives to threaten those who come back to their cars and take their food by force. One of our neighbors was stabbed by one of the street thieves.”
“My neighbor saw police attacking potential thieves and killed one of them. Not sure if the killing was because they stole the items or because they are one of the spies,” he said. “Before they went to attack Israel on the 7th of October, they should have ensured that Gaza was flooded with food and medical items. People here will die of hunger.”
Even those with family members who supported the Hamas attack on Israel have been left feeling badly let down.
Um Ahmed, 55, who lives in al-Nuseirat refugee camp in southern Gaza, said her son joined the raid over the border on Oct. 7 despite her warnings. She hasn’t heard from him since but says he has been spotted in a prison in Jerusalem.
She wants to know why Hamas has failed to secure his release in exchange for the Israeli hostages. “Hamas recently conducted a swap deal, releasing prisoners in the West Bank. However, our sons, captured on Oct. 7, remain in Israeli jails. We live in uncertainty about their well-being,” she said.
“Hamas has lost support in Gaza. Now it strives to gain favor in the West Bank, recognizing its failure here. People in Gaza fear Hamas, and the organization’s efforts are concentrated on winning support elsewhere.”
The post Robbed, Silenced, and Betrayed: Why Gazans Turned Away From Hamas appeared first on The Daily Beast.