Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gazans Adjust to Power Shift

New York Times:
A green Hamas flag flies over the building, a tourist site for Hamas members and their families. Um Omran came to see where her son had been tortured. She said he was killed in 2003 by Fatah. Her husband’s brother had also been held there. He was Adnan al-Ghul, the man credited with inventing the first Qassam rocket in 2001, a weapon that Hamas has used to terrorize Israeli cities like Sderot. He was killed by the Israelis in 2004.

“We’re all Qassam in our family, the women and the men,” Ms. Omran said. “I wanted to see this place where my son was tortured.” Asked if she was ashamed by the bloodletting among Palestinians, she said: “Fatah pushed us toward this.”

But Hamas’s victory has left many Gazans feeling vulnerable and afraid.

Ghada, 50, a Palestinian Christian, is afraid to go outside. When she does, “You have all these men suddenly in the street with these long beards, and they look at you in surprise, from up to down, and their look is, like, why are you like this?” Several times, young men have told her she should be killed for not wearing a head covering.

Ghada, who asked that her last name not be used, and who works for an Arab consulate here, now will only take a taxi to her office. On Sunday, the Latin Church and Rosary Sisters School were ransacked and looted, with crosses and Bibles destroyed. Hamas leaders condemned the attack and denied responsibility, but the small Christian community here is anxious.

“Many of us are thinking about leaving Gaza for the West Bank once the crossings are open,” Ghada said. Then she said angrily, “I can’t leave my home — why should I leave it?”

A moment later, she said, “But I may leave for a time until the situation is more clear.”

The Palestinian infighting has shamed everyone, she said.

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