Mass funeral in Gaza attracts tears, uncommon criticism of Hamas

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KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — 1000’s of individuals on Sunday joined the funerals of eight younger Palestinian males who drowned off the coast of Tunisia practically two months in the past as they tried to sail to new lives in Europe.

The drownings have reverberated throughout Gaza, drawing consideration to the dire circumstances within the territory after a 15-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade but in addition prompting some uncommon public criticism of the ruling Hamas militant group.

“The federal government that governs us right here is the rationale. It’s guilty. It’s guilty,” mentioned Naheel Shaath, whose 21-year-old son Adam was among the many useless. “I blame all officers right here who don’t take care of the youths or present job alternatives for them.”

Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after Hamas seized management of Gaza from the internationally acknowledged Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Israel says the closure, which restricts the motion of individuals and items out and in of the territory, is required to forestall Hamas from arming itself. Israel and its Western allies have branded Hamas, an Islamic group sworn to Israel’s destruction, a terrorist group. Critics say the blockade quantities to collective punishment.

The blockade has stifled the economic system of Gaza, the place unemployment hovers close to 50%, and residents are often fast guilty Israel for the tough circumstances. However more and more, households have begun to complain about Hamas’ management, citing the excessive taxes, its heavy-handed rule and a rising stream of leaders, together with its supreme chief Ismail Haniyeh, who’ve moved overseas to extra comfy locations with their households.

“Our youngsters are drowning within the sea and their kids are having fun with luxurious. Isn’t this unfair?” Mrs. Shaath mentioned.

The eight males who have been buried Sunday, all from the southern city of Khan Younis, have been amongst about two dozen Palestinians who drowned over the previous three months en path to Europe

Previously few years, hundreds of migrants from poverty-stricken or war-ravaged nations in Africa, Center East and Afghanistan have perished within the harmful crossing of the Mediterranean Sea.

Mrs. Shaath mentioned her son had studied hairdressing however couldn’t discover a respectable job. Even when he was employed at an area barber store, he earned simply 10 shekels, or about $3, a day.

“If there was work right here for these unhappy youths, would they’ve left and migrated?” she mentioned.

He adopted a path taken by hundreds earlier than him, fleeing to Turkey, one of many few nations that accepts Palestinians from Gaza, on a deadly journey meant to succeed in Europe.

From Turkey, he went to Egypt after which to Libya. The household mentioned it misplaced contact with him on Oct. 4, holding out hopes that he had one way or the other made it to Belgium. However the dangerous information got here on Oct. 24: He was on a ship that sank off Tunisia.

In accordance with the Geneva-based nonprofit Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, round 360 folks from Gaza have both died or gone lacking within the Mediterranean on smuggling ships since 2014.

The our bodies of the eight Palestinians on Adam’s boat have been returned to Gaza on Sunday by means of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Eight ambulances carried the our bodies to a hospital, the place hundreds of wailing folks joined a mass funeral.

The procession broke down into smaller funerals as every household took their son residence for a ultimate goodbye earlier than burial.

One other household, the al-Shaers, buried their son, 21-year-old Mohammed. However his youthful brother Maher, 20, remains to be lacking. They have been on the identical doomed boat.

Their mom, Amina, blamed Hamas for the household’s distress.

“What will we see in Gaza? We solely see oppression,” she mentioned. “They’re suffocating the youth and the youth flee due to their suffocation.”

Akram reported from Hamilton, Canada.

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