'We want to live': Gazans revive popular online campaign against Hamas
Residents in Gaza revived a three-year-old digital campaign against the Islamic Hamas movement, blaming it for the deteriorating living conditions in the territory over the years.
Under the hashtag "We Want To Live", thousands of Gazans, including expatriates, joined the campaign which holds Hamas mainly responsible for the economic, political and social problems in the impoverished and besieged coastal enclave.
"[We are]reviving this campaign once again to raise our voices against Hamas' policies that added to the tragic situation already experienced by residents for years because of the Israeli blockade," one of the campaign's organisers, who preferred to be unnamed, said to The New Arab.
Recently, the Gaza-run Hamas imposed a slew of new taxes even though office supplies despite the fact that the 2.3 million people in the small strip of land are suffering not only from a 15-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade but also from an increase in prices caused by the global supply-chain disruptions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The organiser said Hamas insists on "draining our people by imposing more taxes [and] ignoring the poverty and high rates of unemployment".
He further said that "dozens of Hamas officials have grown their wealth through financial corruption".
"It is the right time to demand our right to live, just like any other people around the world," he added.
The campaign is widespread among Gazans, with many taking to various social media platforms to express anger about their problems.
Activists shared dozens of short videos of complaints about poverty, and other videos depicted brawls between drivers and vendors and Hamas security forces on various occasions.
"Everyone in Gaza is suffering from the situation. The only ones who enjoy their life are officials and their children," Amal al-Shamaly, a resident in Gaza, said to The New Arab.
"To reject this bitter reality," the 35-year-old woman stressed, "I will keep writing against corruption and illegal governmental decisions imposed on us."
"The only thing that we ask is to let us live on our land with a decent life(...) I want to have worked rather than continue my life as an unemployed woman despite finishing my degree," she added.
الحرارة بغزة قريب 40— Nada 🇵🇸 (@Nadahu25) July 27, 2022
متخيل تكون قاعد بهيك جو بدون كهربا انت واولادك وزوجتك
متخيل كبار السن والمرضى
طيب متخيل انه المسؤولين عن هالوضع تركوا الناس وهربوا على قطر وتركيا حيث الحياة الرغيدة طلعت هناك
ولما يطلع شاب من غزة يحكي #بدنا_نعيش
بعملوه جاسوس وضد المقاومة!!!!
"We want to live. We want to have electricity, jobs, and a lot of things to help us continue our lives without thinking of death dozens of times a day," Mahmoud al-Salahi, a Gaza-based man, posted on his Facebook account.
For his part, Anas al-Jazzar, another Gazan, wrote on Twitter: "The real synonym of we want to live is that we do not want to die (...) It is a synonym for a cry because of the deepened pain of a crushed, exhausted, and tired from all our sufferings."
Since the beginning of 2022, at least 49 Gazans died; some were killed, while others died through suicide from psychological pressures resulting from the difficult living conditions, according to local human rights organisations.
Gaza suffers from the double taxation policy pursued by the Hamas government in the Strip since the movement took control of it in 2007.
Hamas imposes taxes on goods imported into the Strip in parallel with the taxes imposed by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
According to estimates by international institutions, the unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip exceeds 50%, and 80% of the population of the Strip depends on international aid, especially provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Refugees (UNRWA).
In 2019, the coastal enclave was undergoing similar circumstances, which led to activists launching the campaign for the first time. Days later, thousands of people flooded the streets to protest Gaza's bitter reality.
The protests were suppressed by Hamas, with thousands arrested, while it vowed to improve the economic situation in Gaza.
"Unfortunately, Hamas lied to us at that time (...) it cancelled some taxes, but it returned them after two weeks only," Amer Balousha, a Turkey-based Gazan activist and one of the campaign organisers in 2019, said to The New Arab.
He called on Hamas officials to pursue "realistic solutions" to the economic problems if they seek to maintain control of Gaza.