For Many Gazans, if Flare-up With Israel Brings Relief – So Be It

Some Palestinians say they are 'sick of promises' for change, but believe the weekend's escalation may cause sides to finally reach understandings

Israeli airstrike hits Gaza City, Saturday, May 4, 2019.
Hatem Moussa,AP

>> Update: After four Israelis and 23 Gazans killed, cease-fire reached between Hamas and Israel

Despite Saturday's serious flare-up, no extreme countermeasures were taken in the Gaza Strip. The common notion shared by most in the coastal enclave is that this just another round that will end within a few days. 

"We are already used to this situation for years. What is clear is that no one wants a long and frontal confrontation, but each party has its own reasons to stretch this out until the end," a Hamas activist residing in the southern Gaza neighborhood of Al-Zaytun said in a conversation with Haaretz. 

According to the activist, the fact that a senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad delegation is currently in Cairo for talks with top Egyptian intelligence officials increases the likelihood that a cease-fire will be achieved, but no one knows how long it would actually last. "In Gaza we are sick of promises about the understandings and as long as they are not fully implemented, what happened this weekend will repeat itself," he said. 

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On Monday, Palestinian worshipers in the Strip, like their brethren in the rest of the Muslim world, will mark the beginning of the Ramadan – a month of fast and prayer. But a festive atmosphere and an active movement of tradesmen do not pervail in Gaza City as they usually do around this time of the year.

"It's part of the issue, people are complacenet and apathic, and the situation is very grave," says Samir Zakut, the deputy mananger of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. "There is no shortage of groceries in Gaza, but people don't have the money to go shopping. Everyone expected that the understandings reached in the last round [of escalation] would bring relief but in reality nothing happened, the ocean was opened but then closed [Israel extended and reduced Gaza's fishing zone], the Qatari money that had been promised did not reach people and the feeling is that everything is stuck," Zakut lamented. 

Elsewhere in Gaza, there are those who are in favor of the flare-up. "We hear from frustrated people on the street that if the escalation eventually brings relief, so be it," a social activist in Gaza affliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said. According to him, Gaza has no horizons, so any move that could bring change will be welcome – even if it is a violent escalation that could cost many their lives.

Talal Abu Zarifa, a member of the national council behind the weekly demonstrations along the border between Israel and the Strip, told Haaretz that Gazans will not accept a formula according to which Palestinians tolerate their situation and continue to give Israel quiet. 

"The formula according to which Israel acts however it wants and dictates the agenda won't be accepted by the different factions, so Gaza expects Israel to implement understandings that were reached and only then things will calm down," he explained.