Israeli attacks alienate even moderate Gaza Palestinians

The latest Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, in which some of the businesses that help keep the impoverished area afloat were destroyed, appears to be alienating even the most moderate of Palestinians.

In the Maghazi refugee camp, the debris of broken sewing machines crunches under the feet of Ahmad Abdel Jawad. Before his clothes factory was demolished, he sold all of his production to customers in Israel.

From his comfortable home on the edge of the camp, which lies in the middle of this narrow strip of land that is home to more than a million people, Jawad watched last week as Israeli tanks and bulldozers demolished his factory and destroyed its 150 sewing machines.

“I thought: my future is in ruins,” he said. “I opened the factory two years ago, and before the Israeli blockade business was booming.

“The factory made clothes destined exclusively for the Israeli market,” he added, bending down from time to time to pick up a roll of cloth or a pack of T-shirts that had somehow survived intact.

He said about 70 families had depended on the factory for their livelihood.

One of his employees, an old man with a wizened face, said he was worried about how his family would survive.

“I have 10 people to feed from my work in this factory.
How are we going to live now?” he demanded.

Karen Abu Zeid, head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, said when she visited the refugee camp on Saturday she was “horrified” by the extent of the destruction caused by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip.

“We don’t quite understand why every economic venture has to be destroyed,” she said as she stood near Jawad’s demolished factory.

She said 16 people were killed in Maghazi in recent days, 125 were wounded and that about 80 families were now without houses.

At least 106 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have now been killed in the impoverished territory since Israel launched its offensive last month with the aim of retrieving a captured soldier and stopping Palestinian militants from firing rockets into Israel from Gaza.

In the ruins of Jawad’s factory children played on Sunday with empty shell casings from the machine gun bullets fired by Israeli soldiers during their assault on Maghazi. The army left the area on Friday after a 48-hour incursion.

A few hours after their departure, Mohammed Harara, a member of a militia linked to Hamas, the Islamist party governing the Palestinian territories, was killed by an Israeli tank shell—along with his mother, his brother and a cousin—in an area in the east of the Gaza Strip.

“His father worked as an electrician for 25 years in a kibbutz in Israel,” the dead man’s uncle, Mahmud Younes, said as he sat in a mourning tent. “His Israeli boss called him when he heard the news. He was very sad.”

Having a father working in Israel and a son belonging to Hamas, which has called for the destruction of the Jewish state, was quite common in Gaza.

“We had martyrs [among our relatives] in 1967” during the Israeli-Arab war, said Said Harara, another relative of the dead man. “But we had none during either of the two Intifadas. We are a pacifist family.”

Mohammed Harara’s cousin Hossam Harara has been radicalised by the deaths.

“Last year I believed in peace with Israel, but now I want to become a bomb and blow myself up in Tel Aviv [Israel’s biggest city],” he said in a voice trembling with emotion.

“Every Palestinian would like to be a bomb in order to get revenge,” he added.—AFP

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