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25 Jan, 2009 06:47

Palestinians divided over Gaza war

The unofficial truce between Israel and Hamas has lasted more than a week. But the suffering in Gaza goes on. And while Hamas remains popular among Palestinians in Gaza, people still remain divided over their role.

Israel unilaterally ended its three-week attack on Gaza late last Saturday. Hamas called their own halt hours later.

But for those living in Gaza, everyday live has not improved, especially for those who want to speak out.

When Hamas came to power, it promised to improve the lives of ordinary people. But today in Gaza, after the war with Israel, many have lost their houses and are struggling to find enough to eat and drink.

“A lot of poor people supported Hamas because we believed they'd give us food. But the situation is very miserable. If you don't support Hamas, you don't get bread,” said Gaza resident and Hamas supporter Hamed Ebrahim Swerki.

But now, even those who do support Hamas are finding themselves without enough to feed their families.

Despite these hardships, which include not just food shortages but limited supplies of electricity and running water, many in Gaza believe that Hamas has improved their situation.

“I trust Hamas as it brought us freedom. Freedom is more important than food and electricity. Hamas will very soon be in power in the west bank,” resident Moeen Elketnany said, whose son was killed on the first day of the Israeli offensive.

Because of this popularity, the Palestinian Authority has been hunting down Hamas fighters across the West Bank. They fear the organisation will be bolstered by their war against Israel.

However, there is one person who is not afraid to speak his mind. Professor Abid El-Sattar Khassam is one of the best-known writers in Palestinian soceity and is known as the voice of a nation.

“The Israelis have started to lose. The next step is the Israeli army will be turned back by either the Arab armies or by the Palestinian organisations or both of them together,” Khassam said.

But not everyone agrees. When Hamas was elected to power three years ago, it held the dreams of the Palestinian people in its hands. Some, now, are rethinking their choice.

“People of Palestine want a revolution; they want defence,” said Alah Abu Soya, head of the Communist National Frontline Party.

With Israel out of Gaza, Palestinians now have the difficult task of rebuilding their lives. As their focus turns inwards, one of the biggest challenges they face will be to unite a fractured society.