The Arabic word tahdiya means ‘calming’ or ‘quieting.’ Hamas and the Government of Israel agreed to a six month tahdiya a few days ago, just after the first anniversary of the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. Hostilities on both sides would cease, and the Israeli siege of Gaza would gradually ease. The Tahdiya started at 6:00am on June 19. I was startled out of sleep about fifteen minutes beforehand by a familiar sound– the pounding of bombs. Israel was bombing the northern Gaza Strip, just a few miles away from where I live. At six o’clock exactly, the bombing stopped. But it didn’t bode well.
During the six months I’ve been in Gaza, there have been three separate threats to kidnap foreigners who work here. I hear about these threats via a daily online security bulletin.
This week marks a year since Hamas bludgeoned their way to power in Gaza. It has been a hell of a year here, with Israel sealing the entire Gaza Strip and imposing a crippling siege on 1.5 million people, whilst the so-called ‘International Community’ shamelessly continues to look the other way. It’s easy to forget that, before they took over Gaza, Hamas was democratically voted into office because the previous Palestinian Fatah Government was rotten with corruption, and Palestinians wanted a new political era.
Most of the bad news you hear about Gaza is true. There are chronic fuel shortages here: this week I’ve seen hundreds of men queuing to refill their empty canisters of cooking gas, so they can cook at home, and hundreds of drivers queuing outside one gas station in Gaza city, desperately hoping they can refuel their cars. There are constant shortages of electricity, fresh drinking water (because the electric water pumps keep shutting down), fresh milk, medicines and hearing aids - which the Government of Israel won’t allow into Gaza for ‘security’ reasons. Israel has also banned construction materials, which is why a lot of the Gaza Strip literally looks like a bomb site.