The World Forum - April 24th, 2024

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‘At First We Were Ecstatic’: Gazans Respond to Hamas Attack, Calling It a Historic Day


Surprised by the abductions, Gazans quickly realized that the number of fatalities and hostages in Israel would lead to a very severe retaliation. 'It will be a collective punishment' Gaza resident said.

“None of us believed the videos we saw on Saturday morning. Hamas fighters inside Israeli territory and fighting with all their might,” Maha, a 34-year-old woman from Gaza City said in a call with Haaretz. “Who would have thought this would happen?” She called October 7 “a historic day for the Palestinian people.”

“We were ecstatic. It’s like a dream that is hard to wake up from,” Maha adds. “But as the picture became clearer, and I saw that there were Israeli prisoners, I realized that we were in a nightmare, in hell.”

“I didn’t think for a moment that the attack was planned. But when we learned about the number of fatalities on the Israeli side, we understood that it was a planned operation, and then Hamas issued an official announcement about the ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ war,” said Maher, a 48-year-old resident of Gaza City. “For the Palestinians in Gaza the events and the abduction of Israelis were a big surprise,” he said.

It is hard to ask Palestinians in Gaza whether they think this is a good time to attack Israel, because these are people who have lived under siege for many years and consider the right to fight for freedom as essential. Anyone who is not familiar with the daily life of Gazans will find it difficult to grasp their reality, and the way they explain the logic of the fight against Israel. Maher refrains from expressing his position on the hostages, saying they were taken “only to force the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.” He explains that this war is intended to “preserve Palestinian national honor.”

Gazans refrain from addressing the issue of the Israelis taken captive, who include women, children and the elderly. In their view, and in Maher’s words, Israel is also “massacring, imprisoning and killing Palestinian children.” Maha has reservations about the kidnappings: “Why are the children to blame?” she asks.