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Hamas Faces Rising Anger after Bulldozing Gaza Homes

Von: Dan Clore (clore@columbia-center.org) [Profil]
Datum: 30.05.2010 04:20
Message-ID: <4C01CB77.2060803@columbia-center.org>
Newsgroup: soc.rights.human alt.politics.socialism alt.politics.radical-left alt.activism alt.society.anarchy alt.anarchism alt.fan.noam-chomsky alt.politics.libertariantalk.politics.libertarian
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100528/wl_mideast_afp/mideastconflictgazahamas
Hamas faces rising anger after bulldozing Gaza homes
AFP
by Joseph Krauss Joseph Krauss
Fri May 28, 1:10 pm ET

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AFP)  Huddled in a tent near the mound of rubble
that used to be his home, Eissa al-Sidudi says out loud what many Gazans
would only mutter in private: Hamas has gone too far.

On May 16 Hamas police dragged his wife and eight children out of their
squat cement house and pummelled him with wooden batons as bulldozers
razed the building along with nearly 20 other homes.

"They didn't come here as a government, they came as an enemy power," he
said, surrounded by several nodding neighbours who are also camping out
at the site, an outcrop of sand dunes on the edge of the town.

"Whoever destroys my house is my enemy," he said.

Hamas authorities said they demolished the homes under a court order
because they were illegally built on government land.

But the image of Israeli bulldozers toppling homes in the occupied
territories has been seared into the Palestinian conscience, and the
move came amid rising discontent with Hamas's rule over the impoverished
territory.

A tax hike imposed in recent weeks on a wide variety of goods, including
cigarettes, has infuriated Gazans living under strict border closures
imposed by Israel and Egypt following the Islamist group's June 2007
takeover.

And a poll last month by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre
(JMCC) found that more than 40 percent of Gazans would back the secular
Fatah movement if elections were held today, compared to just 16 percent
for Hamas.

Khalil Shahin, of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), said
the demolitions were part of a larger project targeting some 180 houses
in the same area and came at an "extremely difficult" time for Gazans.

The territory is in the grip of a major housing shortage, with entire
neighbourhoods flattened during the 2008-2009 Gaza war still in ruins.

Israel has recently started allowing in building materials for UN
projects, and there are limited amounts smuggled through tunnels from
Egypt, but they are beyond the means of most Gazans, 80 percent of whom
rely on foreign aid.

"There is a severe housing crisis in Rafah, so it is not possible to
find an apartment to rent or even a storage facility for people to live
in," Shahin said.

Ibrahim Radwan, the head of the Hamas-run Land Authority, said the
residents had been warned numerous times and that past governments led
by the secular Fatah movement had approved similar evictions.

"If we remain silent we encourage the needy as well as those who are not
needy, and those who are greedy," he said.

The PCHR said, however, that most of the estimated 150 individuals
evicted from their homes were "impoverished refugees," many of whom had
seen their homes destroyed by Israeli forces in past years.

Two of the houses that were destroyed were made of mud bricks and had
been hailed by Hamas as a feat of Palestinian ingenuity in enduring the
siege.

The residents deny they were ever given eviction notices and many
display legal documents they say prove they had purchased the land.

"I paid 2,000 dollars for this land and they can't say that I took it,"
Mimi Abu Athira shouted as she brandished a deed of ownership in front
of the pile of crushed cinder blocks that once housed her and her
20-year-old son.

Like many area residents, she used to live near the border with Egypt
but had to move when the room she rented was destroyed during the Gaza war.

"At least when the Jews destroy your house they tell you first," she
said, before describing how a special unit of Hamas policewomen dragged
her out and beat her before the bulldozer moved in.

The government has set aside the land, a stretch of sand dunes that used
to be part of an Israeli settlement, for the construction of an Islamic
school, fuelling rumours of corruption that have circulated in Gaza in
recent months.

"The people are beginning to talk, they are beginning to raise their
voices," said Naji Sharrab, a professor of political science at Gaza's
Al-Azhar University.

Many displaced residents, who refused to be identified for fear of
retribution, said corrupt local officials were behind the demolitions.

Rampant corruption in the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority was a major
factor in Hamas's landslide victory in 2006 elections.

"Before it came to power Hamas had a reputation for honesty and
integrity. Now the people are talking about corruption, about those who
have accumulated large amounts of money, who have gotten their hands on
land," Sharrab says.

There is little hard evidence for such corruption, Shahin of the PCHR
says, but that may be because of the lack of transparency in the land
sector.

"There are at least some people who are close to the security services
or even work in the militias who have taken over government lands for
their own private interests," Shahin said. "The priority should be to
address them."

--
Dan Clore

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Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
in charge on this island?
Professor: Why, no one.
Skipper: No one?
Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
-- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"































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