Gaza Voices: “I Say to the Resistance, ‘Go Ahead. We Are Behind You.’”

The New York Times has bought into Israel’s claim that Hamas is to blame for the devastation and suffering in Gaza, giving play to the accusations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and supporting his charge in an editorial yesterday.

In its lead editorial for Aug. 7, the Times wrote that Hamas “launched weapons from populated areas in what looks like a deliberate effort to draw Israeli fire on innocents.” It adds no confirming evidence for this, but it seems that the editors are taking Israeli army claims at face value.

The Times has made no effort to speak at length with the people of Gaza on their thoughts about resistance fighters. Since these are the “innocents” that the Times professes concern for, it would be instructive to hear from them. We should not hold our breath waiting for the Times to do this, but fortunately, Al Jazeera has stepped into the breach, reporting on the thoughts of ordinary Gaza residents interviewed during the latest ceasefire.

Reporter Mohammed Omer traversed the Strip, visiting Palestinians in the north, south and central areas of Gaza, letting them speak their minds as they would. Their comments reveal no resentment of Hamas, no hint that the fighters drew fire on innocent bystanders. On the contrary, they praise the resistance, express anger at the silence of Arab leaders and speak with pride of their own resilience and determination.

Here are the words of Umm Salam Abuelbayad, 35, a homemaker: “And I say to the resistance: Go ahead, we are behind you. I say this despite losing my home and some family members being injured. I say this despite my pain and deep wounds. If I were to describe this last month: It was a war of terror.

“This war made me believe only in the resistance, and the resistance will bring an end to this occupation. It is the resistance which defends us and our souls—the world is watching us, but they are doing nothing for us.”

It is well worth reading the other comments in Omer’s story, which is titled “Voices from Gaza: Survivors Speak Out.”

And for background on conditions in the Gaza Strip, as the ceasefire crumbles, there is the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ latest situation report, to be found here.

Barbara Erickson

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