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Gaza Strip and West Bank: Life in Parallel Worlds



Nablus West Bank

Nablus, West Bank. credit: West Bank Apparel’s FB page

Gaza Strip and West Bank: Life in Parallel Worlds

The Gaza Strip and West Bank are Palestinian territories controlled by Israel since 1967. But despite their geographic proximity, residents face vastly different realities under the control of competing authorities. This article examines key differences in governance, security, economy, and religious freedom between the two areas.

Competing Authorities

In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority (PA) exercises limited self-rule in urban areas, while Israel retains control over 60% of territory. The PA administers civil functions like health and education. But Israel still oversees security, borders, settlements, and military affairs. Hamas has no authority in the West Bank.

By contrast, Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the PA in 2007. Hamas administers internal security, health, education, and other civil functions. But Israel continues to control Gaza’s borders, airspace, and maritime access. The PA is largely shut out of Gaza where Hamas rules alone. This split  governance shapes divergent experiences.

Security and Militancy in the West Bank and Gaza strip

Hamas terrorists. Credit: Yediot Aharonot FB page

The West Bank is policed by Palestinian Authority security forces trained by international partners like the US. They coordinate with the Israeli military on security operations. While protests and some attacks occur, the PA suppresses West Bank militancy.

In comparison, Hamas and other militant factions hold sway in Gaza. Hamas has built up a large armed wing responsible for frequent rocket attacks and clashes with Israel. Gaza has endured four major Israeli offensives since 2008 as well as an ongoing blockade, fueling militancy.

Economy and Infrastructure

Ramallah. Ramallah News FB page

The West Bank economy has grown in recent years, buoyed by relative stability and international aid. Urban centers like Ramallah have witnessed construction booms. The PA pays civil servant salaries and provides some public services. Israeli restrictions remain, but economic prospects exceed Gaza’s bleak conditions.

Despite massive international assistance, living conditions in Gaza remain dire under Hamas rule. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) provides vital aid for food, healthcare, and education in Gaza. But there are allegations that Hamas exploits this aid to bolster its military capabilities rather than serve Gaza’s population. Instead of building up economic infrastructure, Hamas heavily invests in weapons smuggling, rocket manufacturing, and expanding its armed wing. Reports indicate that Hamas has diverted millions in humanitarian aid to create tunnel networks, procure arms, and finance military training. This prioritisation of its militia over the well-being of Gaza’s civilians has been enabled by the unchecked inflow of international assistance. Hamas continues to sacrifice the basic needs of Gaza’s people in favor of pursuing its military agenda against Israel. Consequently, living standards are stagnant despite high levels of foreign aid. Gaza’s suffering is prolonged by Hamas’s refusal to use donor aid for its intended purposes.

Religious Freedom

Both territories face religious freedom challenges, including harassment of clergy, vandalism of holy sites, and limits on worship. But Israel allows more religious access to Jerusalem’s holy sites from the West Bank than Gaza. Palestinian Christians decry increasing Israeli restrictions on residency permits and land acquisition around Christian areas of Jerusalem.

In Gaza, Hamas imposes aspects of Islamic law and norms. While Christianity is practiced, proselytization and conversions are largely prohibited. The LGBT community in Gaza doesn’t exist and is basically prohibited. Hamas has restricted Christian celebrations and periodically barred Gazans from visiting holy sites in Israel. Christians endure discrimination under Hamas’ rule, as well as women.


While all Palestinians live under Israeli control to a certain extent, the different authorities ruling the West Bank and Gaza have created divergent realities. Security, economic opportunities, infrastructure conditions and religious freedom vary greatly between the two areas just miles apart physically but worlds apart in daily life.

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Hamas Tactics: A Cycle of Violence That Needs to End





Hamas Terrorists. Credit: ‘כאן חדשות’ FB page

Over time, Hamas has honed techniques designed to do maximum damage while preserving its assets and troops. The latest deadly fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas has once again shown Hamas’s complicated and disturbing tactical methods. 

Hamas is applying military lessons from previous conflicts. The organization researches Israeli capabilities and weaknesses and incorporates their findings to optimize and perfect their method. Hamas used deception as a base for many of their military tactics. In Gaza, mock structures resembling Israeli settlements have been constructed as training grounds for terrorists to rehearse simulated attacks. Fake social media profiles and altered films offer a false sense of security, allowing Israel to relax its watch. Economic incentives for workers fund military preparedness. These techniques are designed to fool Israeli intelligence services and conceal Hamas’s genuine capabilities and goals.

Terror tunnel networks provide for covert movement and supply connections. Hamas tactics include urban warfare strategies, ambushes, IEDs, snipers, and hit-and-run provocations. The terror tunnel networks also have a psychological impact since they keep Israeli troops constantly guessing when and where potential future attacks and kidnappings can occur.

A tunnel built by Hamas

A tunnel built by Hamas to penetrate Israel. Credit: ‘ישראלים מצייצים’ FB page.

Human shields are yet another contentious Hamas strategy. Hamas utilizes the population of Gaza as a shield from Israeli counter-attacks by operating and hiding weapons in heavily populated civilian areas. Using civilian homes for weapon storage, building their terror tunnels underneath schools, and even creating rocket launching sites in hospitals and cemeteries. This shows their complete lack of respect for their dead and ensures civilian losses, which Hamas will subsequently use to sway public opinion against Israel. Similarly, the group’s tactic of kidnapping Israeli troops and holding them prisoner underground has frequently put the captives’ lives in jeopardy during Israeli rescue efforts.

These tactics alter a conflict’s dynamics. Israel, or any other moral, democratic nation, must use restraint in its actions due to ethical concerns over civilian losses. However, this merely gives Hamas greater leeway to continue its deadly provocations. With the desire to weaken Hamas’ capabilities, heavy blows on a regular basis are in order. However, these attacks’ high toll on innocent people fuels more radicalism. Conversely, doing nothing would allow Hamas to build up its weapons and undertake increasingly lethal assaults over time.

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Israel Palestine War




IDF Tank and helicopter. Credit: Nitsan Saddan

IDF Tank and helicopter. Credit: Nitsan Saddan

Hamas Launches Another Attack

In the early hours of October 7th, 2023, Hamas, a Palestinian group based in Gaza, initiated a new round of conflict. They employed an extensive barrage of thousands of rockets, advanced technology, and aggressive tactics to breach Israel’s heavily fortified border. This attack targeted both military installations and civilian areas, including a music festival where thousands had gathered. The death toll continues to rise, with thousands losing their lives. Hamas also took over 200 people hostage, including civilians including children, soldiers, and foreigners visiting Israel. Tragically, individuals from at least 36 different nationalities are either dead or missing.

Childrens bedroom after being attacked by Hamas on Oct 7th. Credit: סמדר תל חי FB page.

Childrens bedroom after being attacked by Hamas on Oct 7th. Credit: סמדר תל חי FB page.

Hamas’s Motivation

Hamas’s motives for the attack were numerous and multifaceted: the terrorist group aimed to boost their anti-Israel credentials and relevance in the region; relieve domestic pressure coming from Gazans who were fed up with Hamas’ corrupt, inhumane, and incompetent rule; and finally, the October 7th Massacre was Hamas’s attempt to revive sympathy for the Palestinian cause amongst the international community through a deliberately false, and manipulative public relations campaign focused on establishing a false moral equivalence between the Army of the State of Israel and a terrorist organisation who slaughters innocent men, women, and children apparent glee. The question of why Hamas chose to launch this attack now is complex, with historical, geographical, religious, political, and power dynamics at play. We’re here to break it down for you.

Hamas’s Control of Gaza

Hamas, a terrorist group that has been involved in acts of violence, recently took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Under their rule, LGBTQ+ Palestinians face persecution, and public music is banned. It’s essential to note that Israel, despite its conflicts with Hamas, has been a significant source of energy, food, and medical supplies for Gaza’s residents.

History of Gaza


Gaza Strip – on the left. Credit: CBS News’s FB page.

Israel’s control of Gaza has a history that dates back to the 1967 Six-Day War. However, in 2005, under the leadership of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel withdrew its soldiers from Gaza and evacuated over 5,000 Israelis. Unfortunately, the transition to Gazan self-government faced challenges, as Palestinian looters stripped and destroyed infrastructure left behind by the Israelis.

Hamas’s Escalations

Since Israel’s withdrawal, Hamas has engaged in a series of provocations, often marked by rocket attacks on Israeli cities and the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. Shalit remained a hostage for five years.

Recent Mass Hostage-Taking

Hamas’s recent large-scale capture of hostages has raised concerns about their use as human shields, a tactic Hamas has used to protect its military and political assets. The hostages may face additional abuse and torture.

Perspective from Palestinians

From a Palestinian perspective, the brutality displayed by Hamas is not new, as many Palestinians have suffered under their rule since 2007.

The Road Ahead

In the coming days and weeks, there will likely be significant repercussions for Hamas, and innocent Palestinian lives hang in the balance. Israel is taking steps to secure the release of its people. It’s important to distinguish the actions of Hamas from the broader Palestinian population.

A Call for Gaza’s Liberation

Many Palestinians believe that Gaza’s liberation from the grip of Hamas is long overdue and hope for a resolution to this ongoing conflict.

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Education in the Gaza Strip




Kids in Gaza

Kids in Gaza. Credit: I love Allah’s FB page

According to several studies conducted by various human rights organizations, a review of Palestinian school textbooks and curricula reveals a number of human rights violations.  Recurring topics include the rejection of the State of Israel and denial of its right to exist, the demonization and incitement of violence against Jews, and a downplay of peace advocacy in favor of incitement. These schools have been inciting three generations of young Palestinians to hate and kill Jews, to revere martyrs and aspire to jihad. Parents of current students have been educated in the same schools, as have many of the 30,000 teachers employed by UNRWA.  Perhaps most importantly, the education curriculum teaches that the so-called Palestinian Right of Return is to be achieved by war. Under Hamas, Gaza’s educational system, which is heavily impacted by political allegiances and local disputes, faces a challenging environment. In order to steer the children of Gaza toward a more promising educational future, it is imperative that we comprehend the subtleties of this scenario.

Hamas’s Influence on Education

Kids in the Gaza Strip

Kids in Gaza strip. Credit: Avihai Shorshan’a FB  Page

Since its founding in 1987, Hamas, a strong political and militant organization, has had a considerable impact on Gaza’s educational landscape. The group’s goal of spreading its ideals and values, which are based on political and religious convictions, has permanently altered the educational environment. The son of a Hamas founder, Mosab Yousef, offers a distinctive viewpoint on the brainwashing that takes place within the educational system. He explains how youngsters are indoctrinated with the idea that, in order to establish an Islamic state, innocent people must be killed. Such instruction has a significant psychological effect on young Gazans, which raises questions about their early exposure to extreme beliefs.

 Moreover, Yousef highlights the lack of choice for the children of Gaza, emphasizing how they are shaped by the ideologies fed to them. This underscores the pervasive influence that Hamas has on the educational narrative, limiting the intellectual freedom of students and narrowing their worldview.

What Do Palestinian Children Actually Learn in School?

A new study of Palestinian textbooks finds that Palestinian children are being taught to glorify and value terrorism and violence. The study, called “Palestinian Elementary School Curriculum 2016–17: Radicalization and Revival of the PLO Program,” was conducted by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education. To an even greater extent than the 2014–15 textbooks, the curriculum teaches students to be martyrs and denies the existence of Israel and focuses on a “return” to an exclusively Palestinian homeland. 

According to the report, within the pages of the textbooks children are taught to be expendable. Messages such as: “the volcano of my revenge”; “the longing of my blood for my land”; and “I shall sacrifice my blood to saturate the land” suffuse the curriculum. Math books use numbers of dead martyrs to teach arithmetic. The vision of an Arab Palestine includes the entirety of what is now Israel, defined as the “1948 Occupied Territories.”

This is not the way to prepare children for peace. For example, here is how the grade 4 math textbook teaches math:

The number of martyrs of the First Intifada during 1987–93 totaled 2026 martyrs, and the number of martyrs of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Intifada in the year 2000 totaled 5,050 martyrs while the number of the wounded reached 49,760. How many martyrs died in the two Intifadas.

The following are more examples of the incitement, antisemitism, and violence found and promoted in Palestinian curricula:

In a fifth grade textbook provided by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of education, while teaching Arabic reading comprehension to girls, an entire chapter is dedicated to praising the martyr Dalal al-Mughrabi , who led a team of terrorists in the massacre of 38 Israelis, including 13 children, in 1978. She is glamorized and draped in the Palestinian flag.

According to a March 2023 report by UN Watch, teachers and schools at the UN agency that runs education and social services for Palestinians regularly call for the  murder of Jews, and create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis and incite antisemitism. For example, in September 2022, 5th-graders at a school in Gaza were taught to admire as a “martyr” and “hero” Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassem, the namesake of Hamas’ military wing, who had preached the murder of Jews. On November 20, 2022, photos of a classroom blackboard from Social Studies class in the 5th grade Class 9 of the fifth grade show a map labeled Palestine. The map includes the State of Israel – a UN member state, and marks areas and cities in Israel such as Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, and Beersheba as part of Palestine. In December 2022, the report found that an Arabic reading comprehension exercise for 9th graders celebrated a Palestinian firebombing attack on a Jewish bus as a “barbecue party.”

Another text taught to 9th-graders at the school posted in December 2022, demonized Israelis as sadistic predators looking for prey by teaching reading comprehension using graphic descriptions of Israelis brutally murdering Palestinians in entirely fictional stories. A “Zionist officer” deliberately shoots to death a Palestinian fisherman in front of his son in Gaza for being late to shore. The graphic text describes a “fountain of blood bursting from his chest.” In addition, 5th-graders at the school learned that martyrdom and jihad are “the most important meanings of life” through an exercise practicing vocabulary and grammar in Arabic language Learning material posted in September 2022.

A Palestinian social studies lesson posted in September 2022 instilled in 9th-grade students the message that “armed struggle” against Israel is a “divine right.” Another September 2022 9th grade social studies text spreads antisemitic propaganda by teaching the libel that Israel infects Palestinians with cancer by dumping toxic waste in the West Bank and Gaza. 

Asma Middle School for Girls B encouraged schoolgirls to liberate the homeland by sacrificing “their Blood” and pursuing jihad.  UNRWA-created Arabic language material posted in September 2022 for the 6th grade includes an exercise promoting sacrificing one’s life—“the most precious thing” a person has—for the homeland as an obligation and to sacrifice “their blood.”  A  grammar exercise states that “I will commit jihad to liberate the homeland” and “I will not give up a centimeter of my land.” The last sentence further indicates students are taught to reject any territorial compromise with Israel.

However, Hamas’s indoctrination of violence is not limited to the classroom and textbooks. The sae report found that Palestinian summer camps were, in some ways worse than the schools. In these summer camps, children are trained to be soldiers, a clear violation of international law.

By teaching the glorification of terrorism and violence, as well as the demonization of Jews, both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have ensured a generations of antisemitic terrorists who believe anything is justified in order for a so-called glorious return to Palestine, instead of a new generation of leaders who prioritize the prosperity of ordinary Palestinians over the total destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. Unfortunately, we have now witnessed the horrific results of this violent, anti semitic education on October 7th.  

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