British media reports about economic problems in Gaza are as predictable as they are ubiquitous, with most outlets attributing the Palestinian controlled territory’s poverty – and the slow pace of reconstruction – solely to Israel’s “crippling blockade”. We’ve often noted that this myopic Israel-centered explanation denies Palestinian agency, and conflates the true cause of Gaza’s woes (Hamas’s decision to use scarce resources to import weaponry, produce rockets, build attack tunnels and launch terror) with the effect of that decision (the Israeli and Egyptian blockade).
This narrative has been woven into coverage of the weekly border riots known as The Great Return March. Despite the fact that stated goals of the Hamas organised violence is to achieve the Palestinian ‘right of return’ to Israel, more often than not reporters tell news consumers that the unrest is driven in large measure by opposition to Israel’s blockade.
The following paragraph, in a Sept. 29th Guardian report on two Palestinians killed during “protests”, is typical:
Palestinians have protested weekly since 30 March in what they call the “Great March of Return”, demanding that Arabs who fled or were expelled around the time of Israel’s creation in 1948 to be allowed to return to their homes. Demonstrators have also focused on a crippling decade-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has trapped much of the strip’s population and devastated its economy.
Well, it turns out that the Guardian reporter’s failure to even mention Hamas’s role in Gaza’s ‘devastated economy’ would likely elicit criticism by a majority of Gazans, according to a new poll released by Bethlehem-based Palestine Center for Public Opinion.
Here’s the relevant section from The Washington Institute’s report on the new poll:
Asked who is most responsible for the slow pace of reconstruction in their area, the majority pick either Hamas (32 percent) or the Palestinian Authority (22 percent)—compared with just 27 percent who single out Israel. The UN and “no opinion” each get 8 percent of the vote for most at fault. Surprisingly, Egypt is last on this list of perceived villains, with a mere 3 percent.
These counterintuitive findings offer a rare honest glimpse into what Palestinians living under Hamas’s despotic rule actually believe, providing a compelling corrective to an entrenched media echo-chamber which continues to grossly mislead readers about the true root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.