Grim records mark the 10th anniversary of Hamas rule in Gaza — the longest-ever daily electricity and water cuts, 60 percent youth unemployment, and a rising backlog of thousands waiting for a rare chance to exit the territory.
Unable to offer a remedy, the Islamic terror group has been doubling down on oppression. It has jailed the few who dare complain publicly, including the young organizers of a street protest against power cuts and an author who wrote on Facebook that “life is only pleasant for Hamas leaders.”
Polls show almost half the people would leave altogether if they could, but that support for Hamas is steady at around a third. With potential opponents crushed, there is no obvious path to regime change.
The international isolation of Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, will likely continue — and with it the border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after the group seized Gaza in June 2007.
A new political program that Hamas hoped would mollify the West and Arab nations instead underscored its ideological rigidity; while softer in tone, the manifesto reaffirms a call to armed struggle and the creation of an Islamic state in what it termed historic Palestine, including all of Israel.
There are also signs that one of Hamas’ remaining foreign backers, Qatar, is in trouble. On Monday, four Arab countries cut ties with the Gulf nation, in part over its support of Islamist groups, such as Hamas. Qatar reportedly asked several Hamas leaders-in-exile to leave.
Hamas also faces financial pressure by Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas, whose forces it violently drove from Gaza a decade ago. Fed up with failed reconciliation efforts, Abbas has warned he would cut more Gaza subsidies, such as electricity payments.