Motasem A. Dalloul
Middle East Monitor / August 4, 2023
Early this week, hundreds of people in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis took to the streets calling for the Administrative Committee in the besieged enclave to provide them with a better quality of life. They also called for lifting alleged restrictions imposed on freedom of expression in Gaza.
These people responded to calls made by a number of Palestinian youths who left Gaza after being released from prison. They live in Egypt or Europe and have repeatedly incited against Gaza and the Palestinian resistance.
Calling for or organizing demonstrations in protest against certain issues is a human right, but demonstrations should target the parties which cause crises or stand behind problems in order to put pressure on them to bow down or respond to the demands of the protesters.
However, when the people you are protesting against do not have the ability to solve your problems, then you are protesting against the wrong people. Also, when you demonstrate to call for ending problems that do not exist or to cause chaos, it means that you are inciting against the ruling parties or acting to harm the country’s security.
This is what happened in Gaza. The protesters responded to people with criminal records living abroad and were affected by continuous incitement by certain Palestinian TV channels – Palestine TV run by the PA and Al-Awdeh TV run by Fatah, which dominates the PA.
When the protesters took to the streets in Khan Yunis, they called for dignity. Inciting them, Palestine TV and Al Awdeh TV claimed that Palestinians in Gaza are being oppressed and do not have the right to demonstrate.
The demonstrators claimed authorities in Gaza do not respect human life, citing the death of a Palestinian citizen during a mission to enforce the law by the municipality of Khan Yunis.
However, all members of the municipality of Khan Yunis had resigned following the incident and the Administrative Committee in Gaza opened an investigation into the events. Within a couple of days, justice was achieved for the victim and his family accepted the findings.
Regarding claims freedoms are suppressed in Gaza, if this was truly the case, could these protests have been held?
The protesters called for the Administrative Committee to ease the restrictions on movement, provided the materials which are banned from entering Gaza by Israel and Egypt, and called for greater job opportunities for workers and university graduates.
I believe these people know that the authorities in Gaza are not the reason why there is a lack of basic materials and a scarcity of job opportunities. They know very well that the coastal enclave has been under a strict Israeli siege for more than 17 years and the rulers of the Gaza Strip are suffering from the consequences of the siege more than the people themselves.
The demonstrators called for improving electricity supplies. Qatar immediately stepped in and announced it was raising funds it provides for the Gaza power plant. The PA and Fatah responded angrily, and Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh sent a protest note to Qatar protesting against its assistance to Gaza.
Shtayyeh denied the reports that he had sent the note, but a member of the Qatar Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza posted details of the note on Facebook.
People are still planning to take to the streets of Gaza to destabilize it. Dana Ben-Shimon, Israel Hayom’s Palestinian affairs and Arab world correspondent, said many Israeli specialists have been asked if such chaos could deviate Hamas from its continuous work on developing its resistance capabilities.
Calls for the protests in Gaza are part of a broader campaign aimed at destabilizing the Strip, which is the hub of the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation. But such efforts are doomed to fail, as they have previously.
Palestinians will continue supporting the resistance even if the Israeli measures and siege continue. There may be some who surrender, collaborate with the Israeli occupation or serve its interests by targeting the Palestinian resistance and its supporters, but these people will remain the minority even if they run the Palestinian Authority.
Motasem A. Dalloul is Middle East Monitor’s correspondent in the Gaza Strip