Hamas struggles to co-opt Palestinian uprising against Israel
A group of young men limp through the dust. The new symbols of Palestinian defiance, they say they were shot by Israeli troops during demonstrations close to the fence in the besieged enclave of the Gaza Strip.
They’re given seats close to the stage, in the shade of a warehouse-sized tent where the fiery speeches of some of Gaza’s leading militant leaders ring out.
Their places of honor were earned by being wounded during demonstrations against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, which it jointly conducts with Egypt.
“We will continue our marches despite the huge difference in the balance of power, but one thing that this Zionist enemy does not have and we have, determination, will and sacrifice,” bellows Khaled al-Batsh, a leader in Islamic Jihad, considered a terrorist organization by the US and, like Hamas, which rules Gaza, dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish State.
Often described, even by supporters of Israel, as the “biggest open prison in the world,” Gaza is home to over two million people who have been locked in by Israel and Egypt and live under Hamas’ hard-line rule.
Israel says the blockade – which has been in place since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 – is designed to stop the smuggling of arms into the territory. The Israeli government maintains it allows inflows of humanitarian aid.
Hamas remains dedicated to the Jewish state’s demise but is now struggling to co-opt, or harness, a popular and largely non-violent uprising originally organized by ordinary citizens.
The deadliest clashes in years broke out the day the United States moved its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, the city claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as their capital.