GAZA—While some in the Holy Land and around the world celebrate the imminent ousting of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, many Gazans—still reeling from the tremendous death and destruction of last month—are feeling as hopeless as ever.
“We in Gaza do not have a lot of hope for anything from the new Israeli government,” Hani Marzouq, a 35-year old Palestinian citizen from southern Gaza, told The Daily Beast. “The Palestinians want changes in Israeli policies in dealing with them, and not just a change in the form of government.”
On Wednesday, Israeli opposition lawmakers announced that a deal had been reached to form a majority coalition government which, for the first two years, will be led by Naftali Bennett.
The replacement prime minister is a far-right millionaire with a history of spewing anti-Arab rhetoric, including flat rejections of a peace plan with Palestinians, promising that he will “do everything” in his power to deny Palestinians their own state, and allegations that he boasted about “killing lots of Arabs.”
Mustafa Ibrahim, a political analyst in Gaza, predicts that the new Israeli government—which is made up of an unusual combination of leftist, right-wing, and Islamist politicians—will be “unstable and weak.”
“It has no clear political goals towards the Arabs inside Israel, or towards the Palestinian cause, and it is also unclear how it will deal with issues left by the Netanyahu government,” he said, especially with regards to the Gaza post-war reconstruction efforts.
Rebuilding Gaza is a monumental undertaking. Over 2,000 homes and businesses were destroyed by incessant Israeli airstrikes over the course of 11 days last month, and more than 250 people were killed. In turn, some Hamas rockets penetrated Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, killing a dozen Israeli citizens.
“This government will not stay for long as there will be major internal disagreements among its members, whose main goal was to form a strong coalition to oust Netanyahu only,” added Ibrahim. “And it succeeded in that, but Israel may go to new fifth elections, and [so] issues related to political solutions with the Palestinians will remain pending for a long time.”
Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum told The Daily Beast that the militant group is not betting on any significant changes for the Palestinian people as a result of the new government, making it clear that he thought the transition in leadership would in no way ease tensions with Israel.
“All Israeli governments are a product of an occupying Zionist project that aims to establish the pillars of the Zionist entity at the expense of the Palestinian rights,” said Barhoum. “Any future Israeli government will not change the nature of the struggle.”
Mustafa Al-Sawwaf, former managing editor of a local Gazan newspaper, said that the new Israeli government will likely face a reinvigorated militant movement in Gaza in the post-Netanyahu era.
“The military factions in Gaza imposed a new equation after the last war, which is that they will not remain silent over Israeli violations, and the new Israeli government must respect this equation,” he said.
Ibrahim made a similar prediction.
“Israel believes that it was able to deter the Palestinian resistance during the last military operation that lasted 11 days, but it seems that the resistance had a heavy weight and achieved the element of military surprise in that war,” he said. “And that shocked Israel, and it will be a challenge to the next Israeli government.”
For everyday citizens living in the besieged enclave, the overwhelming feeling is that what lies ahead is more of the same: a perpetual blockade, frequent power outages, dire water shortages, under-resourced hospitals, and a crippling absence of self-determination.
“Israel says that it is a democratic state, but it discriminates between its citizens, especially the Arabs in it, and deprives the Palestinians of their rights to live freely, and continues its siege of Gaza,” Yasser Jasser, a 39-year old Palestinian citizen from the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza Strip, told The Daily Beast.
“Israeli policy toward Gaza must change. The Israeli government should stop and listen to Palestinian people in Gaza. We need peace, and we want to live freely... the Israeli government should act towards peace and stop its attacks against Gaza.”