Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Politics of a Gaza Paycheck

Visiting with a family member in Mo’askar Jabalya (the Jabalya Refugee Camp), I came to learn about a not so unique story about security forces personally working for the Fateh government.

In May 2007, just a few weeks before the Hamas takeover of Gaza, my cousin Hasan was kidnapped by loyalist Fateh security forces and kept in their basement for 10 days. They accused him of being a member of Hamas and of being part of their militant wing while working for the government, which happened to be a big “No No” at the time. He was kidnapped and 10 days later, they let him go, but not without cutting his salary coming from Ramallah.

Shekels make the world go round (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
With Hamas currently in-charge of the Strip, he had to prove even more that he wasn’t a member of the Hamas military wing so that his salary could be restored. Hasan claims that they had good information on him from friends of his who sold him out and that most security agencies had information proving that he was a high ranking member of the Hamas military wing, the Izz Ad-deen Al-Qassam Brigades. Hasan said that he had some Fateh guy write him a letter proving that he was indeed a member of Fateh so that his salary could be restored. The letter also had 21 other names, most of which were approved and who had their salaries reinstated, except for his. According to Hasan, the preventative Security Force said “Hell no! This ain’t gonna fly with us!” and they continued to disbelieve him to be a Fateh guy.

Now the story takes an interesting turn: Hasan’s contact in Ramallah told him that if he wanted his salary back, he had to prove that he was a member of Islamic Jihad. Here is where Hasan lost me: if Fateh doesn’t like Hamas, why would they not mind him being a member of another Islamic group? Why would this group be credible with the Palestinian Authority when their peers in Hamas are viewed as a threat? I came to learn that members of the Islamic Jihad enjoy working with Fateh on the ground while the leadership of the party prefers Hamas. Hasan went into action and managed to break through to some leaders of Islamic Jihad who gave him a letter confirming his membership in their group. A few more calls and three months later, Hasan started receiving his paycheck and everything was back to normal.

Dismantled Jewish Settlement in Gaza reads: Sharon is a Kapo
Now Hasan states that he no longer believes in any of those parties and he is loyal only to his paycheck since no one offered to help him when he was making his case. I know this is true, because Hasan makes fun of all parties equally and stays out of trouble. He also managed to take me in a trip to Rafah, you know, to the Dixie corners of S.G. (Southern Gaza) to tour the evacuated Jewish settlements. A group of bearded men also came along for the ride. I was like, “Seriously?!”

But the tense atmosphere changed when they cranked up the volume on the radio and brought out the Hookah. I just sat back and relaxed for yet another short while in the tiny strip bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

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Tags: Gaza, Hanitizer, Palestinian National Unity




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