A journalist who visited Gaza found that Hamas is confiscating humanitarian goods donated by the international community and forcing Gaza Arabs to pay for them. The journalist, Mitchell Prothero, wrote an article about attitudes towards Hamas for the UAE paper The National.
“I had to go to a Hamas pharmacy to make sure the pills weren’t fake or made from poor materials in Egypt,” he explained. “If you want real medicine, you have to buy the aid Europe sends us.”
A Gaza businessman said, “If you’re not in Hamas, you get nothing.”
Other Gaza residents who spoke to Prothero described Hamas as being firmly in control of life in Gaza. One said Hamas’s armed forces – including police, military, and intelligence – currently number approximately 35,000, up from 6,000 four years ago.
While those Fatah leaders remaining in Gaza after the 2007 Hamas takeover appeared reluctant to challenge Hamas a second time, the organization faces opposition from another source: Gaza’s growing Salafi Islam groups, which share their philosophy with Al-Qaeda and condemn Hamas as having done too little to impose Islamic law (Sharia).
One member of a radical Salafi group made an interesting claim, saying that his group had suffered more casualties in a particular neighborhood during Israel’s counterterror operation Cast Lead than had Hamas. His report supports Israeli claims that hundreds of the Gaza Arabs killed in Cast Lead who were not Hamas members were armed fighters affiliated with other terrorist groups. Hamas has claimed that most of those killed were civilians.