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Gaza conflict: Views on Hamas

Israel said its 22-day military operation in Gaza in January was aimed at ending rocket fire from Hamas, and weakening the Islamic movement that controls the coastal Strip. Six months after the conflict, three Gazans affected by it give their views on Hamas's standing in Gaza.

YOUSSEF ABU EIDA, FATHER OF EIGHT
Youssef Abu Eida, Gaza

Youssef Abu Eida's four-floor house, home to his eight children and other extended family members, was destroyed during the conflict. Construction materials are blocked from entering Gaza under Israel's blockade, so he has not been able to begin rebuilding.

"Nothing has changed. Each month I feel worse. I got mad. Now I am living in Jabaliya camp, with 12 people in one bedroom.

"Hamas and the Jews both did this. Hamas don't have the power for war - so why did they launch rockets at Israel? Israel needed war here, but who gave Israel the key to come here? Hamas.

GAZA CONFLICT: SIX MONTHS ON
Yaser al-Wadiya, factory owner, Gaza

"They say 'no problem'. But there is a problem! They take everything, clothes, milk food, everything. I think a lot of money comes into Gaza - where is it? For who? Who has taken all the money? What have Hamas done for my family?

"There are 1.5m people in Gaza - are all of them Hamas? No, they are not. You can ask my son, does he need Hamas? Does he like Hamas? No.

"In six months' time maybe I will go crazy, take off all my clothes and run in the streets. All my dreams were in this house, it took me 32 years work to build it. The people here are dead, nothing is moving, everything is stopped."

KAMALAIN SHAAT, ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY
Islamic University president

Kamalain Shaat is head of Gaza's Islamic University, which is widely seen as close to Hamas. Some of the university's buildings were destroyed in Israeli airstrikes - Israel said it targeted a chemistry laboratory used to make explosives.

"We have lost two main buildings, including all our science college labs - but we decided from day one that we have to continue with life. Right now we are offering our students educational services with maybe 90% efficiency, with the minimal resources we have.

"I am not sure about the popularity of Hamas. But what is really clear is that five missiles targeted two educational institutions, which is not acceptable at all. The Israeli army didn't deny this, so they are to blame of course.

"Hamas came in by election. I don't think anything would change if there was an election tomorrow. The people here are suffering, but they are persistent not to give up.

"I think all the time life is difficult [not just in Gaza or because of Hamas]. Do you think people in the [Fatah-controlled] West Bank are not in a difficult situation? They have more than 600 checkpoints. We are in difficulty too - it is part of the whole situation."

TIHANI ABED RABBU, BEREAVED MOTHER
Tihani Abed Rabbu, Gaza

Tihani Abed Rabbu's teenage son Mustafa, her brother and her closest friend were all killed during the conflict.

"After six months, life is hell. I can't understand, I can't absorb it. None of us can go back to normal life, not me, not my children, nor my husband.

"It's not easy to forget the memory, to get rid of the image from your mind. Also there is no security. The Israelis could attack again, the Fatah and Hamas conflict could ignite again.

"I'm afraid that after I have lost Mostafa, that I will lose somebody else as well. When my children go to sleep, and I look at them, I start to think 'who is next - is it Ahmad's turn, or his brother?'

"What worries me is the safety of my family, my sons and my husband. My husband is going through a difficult time, a crazy time. He wants to affiliate with Hamas, he wants to get revenge after what they have done to us.

"How do you expect us to be peaceful after they have killed my son and turned my family into angry people - as they refer to us, "terrorists". I cannot calm my family down.

"One of my sons is affiliated to [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas, every day he fights with his brothers and his father.

"If Fatah and Hamas don't reconcile after this war, I feel like all those people who died, died for nothing, and that the people from both factions have nothing to do with the Palestinian cause - that they are not paying respect to those who died.

"They should wake up and put an end to this division. Unless they do that, I won't feel that my son died as a martyr for the Palestinian cause."



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