This morning I ducked into a little mahal near Bab Touma to buy credit for my cellphone. The old man behind the counter, who’s always smiling, always rattling off greetings, still had a smile on his face when I walked in. But the TV was on and the smile left at the next moment.

“Haram… shame on them.”

I turned around the see the small television on a shelf. On it was a news program showing the powerless hospitals in Gaza.

“What’s the news?” I asked, forgetting at this early morning hour that Gaza was once again without power, that hospitals were again forced to run on generators after the only power plant shut down; that foreign aid was just barely leaking in; that foreign reporters last week were barred from entering the coastal strip. 

“The Israelis and their siege. Look at the hospitals…” he deadpanned. The Syrian news showed an old man slumped in a corner of a dingy room in blinking fluorescent light. It hardly looked like a hospital. “Shame, shame on them.”

From the BBC:

Many will tell you that they feel a time of deep division in Palestinian society is being taken advantage of.

Few take Israel’s explanation, that it is only protecting its citizens from the horror of rocket attacks, at face value.

“Isn’t it enough that their army kills the people who fire rockets?” asks Mr Nasser.

“We are not responsible, so why are we all being punished? It makes no sense.”

He talks of the long-term impact on children in Gaza, including his own, aged six, five and two.

“It’s getting harder for us to answer our childrens’ questions about the situation, without instilling hatred in their minds about the people responsible for our suffering,” he says.

He does not just mean the Israeli government.

“People here see everyone as responsible for their miserable lives. They see Israel closing Gaza, but they also see people around the world doing nothing.

“They see Hamas making things worse by using the blockade as an excuse not to be accountable, and they do whatever they like.

“People see the silence of the PA, [the Fatah-dominated Palestinian government in the West Bank] and blame them too,” he says.

“It’s so hard to see where the hope is, and so hard to stop these conditions breeding more hatred.” 


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