Hamas police proceeded to close a water park in Gaza due to the presence of “degrading and unethical gender mixing” according to the justification reported in the news. Subsequent information about this incident revealed that the citizens who were removed from the water park, following the Hamas decisions, had just sat down to break their fast [during the holy month of Ramadan], and those evicted from this water park included a charity organization that looked after orphans.
The media in our region only briefly reported this news, mainly because we do not understand how breaking one’s fast during Ramadan could be considered “degrading and unethical.” What exactly is the criteria for this?
In any case, this news did not gain a lot of media attention in the Arab world. In fact, those media outlets that covered this story included it on the inside pages of their newspapers or as part of a news round-up, and that is when it was reported at all.
Yet the Gaza Water Park closure is not an isolated incident, in fact similar events occur routinely [in the Gaza Strip]. Only a few weeks ago, gunmen burned down a summer camp for children organized by UNRWA because young boys and girls would be mixing together, and there was a possibility of them swimming together.
Indeed, the siege imposed upon Gaza, and the continuing strain that this has had on its people, has not prevented Hamas from overseeing ‘public morals’. For example, Hamas ensures that women’s clothing stores respect the principle of modesty with regards to the mannequins on display at the shop’s entrances, with the shop’s who fail to do so being subject to punishments. The hardships suffered by the people of Gaza has not prevented Hamas from ensuring that women do not smoke shisha in public places, or that men do not work in female clothing shops.
And who could forget how the Ministry of Education in Gaza banned the book ‘Speak, Bird, Speak Again’ which was a collection of Palestinian folk tales, saying that this contained “shameless sexual expressions?”
What is happening in Gaza is certainly far from an accident, or a miscalculation on the part of Hamas, and in fact this represents the essence of the Hamas movement and its true religious viewpoint. Hamas took over the Gaza Strip through force of arms, and it is impervious to being held to account for its actions. One cannot question its daily practices, or its oppression of the people of Gaza as Hamas practices tyranny in the name of resistance, and hides behind slogans.
Hamas does not tire from changing the features of the Palestinian cause, and obscuring its humanitarian aspects by continuing to obscure and eradicate Palestine’s secular history and reality. Those who are united in support for Gaza and its people do not extend their solidarity towards the subsequent injustices inflicted upon the people of Gaza by Hamas, who have seized control of their lives. The means of resisting the Israeli blockade [of Gaza] are well known, and are sometimes productive, however as for the darkness that is being imposed upon the lives of the people of Gaza by Hamas, this cannot be dealt with whilst people are saying that they are in solidarity with the people of Palestine. What was inspiring with regards the Freedom Flotilla that came to challenge the Israeli blockade was that this also challenged the blockade that is being imposed by Hamas upon the lives of the people of Gaza.
When we read the daily reports about what is happening in Gaza under the shadow of Hamas, we cannot help but recall the final verse of the last poem written about Gaza by [Palestinian poet] Mahmoud Darwish before his death:
“If we can’t find someone to defeat us again, we defeat ourselves with our own hands”