Connect to share and comment

In Gaza, support for Hamas wanes

Many Gazans are beginning to blame Hamas, rather than Israel, for their economic problems.

El Khadar has been unemployed since, and he relies on food aid from CHF International every other month to get by.

Not only is the lack of access to the Israeli job market turning support away from Hamas, he said, it is fueling radical groups in Gaza.

“More pressure on Gaza means that the number of the people going to these radical organizations will increase,” El Khadar said, noting that when jobs do become available in Gaza, they usually go to Hamas members.

Hamas officials, though, say that it is Israel’s blockade of goods, rather than its decision to close its borders to workers from Gaza, that has made so many in Gaza unemployed.

“If construction material would be allowed to cross, then it would create thousands of jobs,” said Ahmed Yousef, a top political advisor to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

“We do our best,” he added. “We are under siege. We create all the jobs we can. When people are under siege, what can they do?”

As peace talks between Israel and the Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority begin again, Hamas has begun a fresh offensive to derail them, launching new rounds of mortar and rocket attacks against Israel and claiming responsibility for an attack on Israelis near the West Bank town of Hebron that left four dead.

For Gazans, the latest violence paints a bleak picture for employment opportunities.

“The government here, the first thing they are looking for is to employ the people,” said El Khadar. “But getting back to Israel is our only opportunity for getting back to work, and that won’t happen soon.” 

Editor's note: In the fourth century B.C., Alexander the Great forged a path from Greece through the modern Middle East to Persia. It was a path of conquest that empires would follow through the ages. Traces of each can be seen today in the culture, monuments, continuing military presence and people along the route, which ended for Alexander in Babylon, in modern-day Iraq. In this project, GlobalPost correspondent Theodore May sets out to see how Alexander’s influence lives on. He will be blogging about his travels at Backpacking to Babylon.