Tuesday, January 29, 2008

“Gaza is quite a dynamic place now”: an interview

The breach of the Gaza-Egypt barrier is changing the region's political calculations, the psychiatrist Eyad Sarraj tells the bitterlemons project

Eyad Sarraj

Contributed by Lucia in Spain

".....bitterlemons: Some see this border breach as a major coup by Hamas. Is that how you read the situation?

Eyad Sarraj: I think whether Hamas planned it or not, the movement was instrumental in what happened. Hamas has now again proved that it is a power to be reckoned with and that if you want to talk about rockets, about (captured Israeli soldier, Gilad] Shalit, about the crossings or relations with Egypt, then you have to talk with Hamas.

bitterlemons: How is this affecting Hamas's popular standing?

Eyad Sarraj: Hamas lost some of its popularity after the killing of a number of people during the Fatah anniversary demonstrations (in December 2007), as well as certain abuses of human rights. But Hamas has become an example for Palestinians generally, because it suffers no corruption and there is a sense of security in Gaza that was never there before. Finally, people identify with Hamas as a victim of the Israeli blockade. So, while it is a mixed picture on the whole, Hamas has emerged stronger....."

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