A rare Palestinian youth leader opposed to Hamas’ totalitarian rule has emerged amid Israel’s efforts to root out the vestiges of the jihadi terrorist movement in the Gaza Strip.
Speaking with Fox News Digital from within the war zone in Gaza, Moumen Al-Natour, 28, said he ‘advocates peace and for the establishment of a Palestinian state’ that coexists with the Jewish state as part of a two-state solution.
The Hamas regime has imprisoned Al-Natour twenty times, including incarceration for ‘expressing my opinion and trying to organize additional protests.’
Al-Natour was part of the 2019 protest against the deteriorating standard of living under Hamas rule.
‘I organized a lot of young people in that 2019 protest movement called We Want to Live,’ he said.
Hamas violently crushed the 2019 protest of hundreds of demonstrators. Gaza has a Palestinian population of 2.3 million people.
According to the Meezaan Organization for Human Rights, based in Nazareth, Al-Natour was tortured by Hamas each time he was jailed.
When asked why the world is not hearing from people in Gaza who oppose Hamas, Al-Natour said, ‘Hamas is still in power. People, even during peace time, they do not criticize Hamas publicly. Now, specifically during wartime, the consequences would be much, much worse than during peace time.
‘For sure, not all the people in Gaza are Hamas. They do not have access to social media and journalistic platforms where they can express what they think about Hamas.’
Asked if the war will bring change to Gaza, Al-Natour said, ‘To be able to defeat Hamas on an ideological level is almost impossible because they have a lot of scholars, they have a lot of books. So, it will not be easy to just wipe out all of that.
‘On the military level, Hamas does not have even 2% or 3% of the strength Israel has.’
Al-Natour stressed that, in a postwar Gaza, it is important that ‘those who suffered for 17 years are the ones who should be leading … for the future of Gaza. We represent the youth and the disenfranchised.
‘We do not need donors to govern us.’
The corruption-plagued Palestinian Authority (PA) rules over large swathes of the West Bank, known in Israel by its biblical name, Judea and Samaria. The Biden administration has discussed introducing the PA as the governing body in a post-Hamas Gaza Strip.
The PA is highly controversial because it issues payments to convicted terrorists and their family members under an infamous ‘slay for pay.’
Fox News Digital reported last month that experts on Palestinian financing claim the Biden administration is using taxpayer funds for the ‘slay for pay’ system.
Al-Natour said he and members of his group are ‘distributing aid in many areas and have met many people who need more of a permanent solution instead of violence and wars. Hamas has launched numerous mini-wars over last 15 years against Israel.’
Al-Natour says he receives aid to distribute from ‘Palestinians abroad and moderate voices.’
UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees), the main aid agency in the Gaza Strip, is facing intense criticism for employing teachers who supported the massacre of 1,200 people, including over 30 Americans, Oct. 7. UNRWA facilities have also served as weapons storage facilities for Hamas.
‘Moumen Al-Natour combines a history of bold anti-Hamas activism with a commitment to forging civil society. When the fighting stops, the success of any post-Hamas administration will depend on whether it attracts Gazans like Moumen to step up and play a role,’ Joseph Braude, president of the U.S.-based Center for Peace Communications, told Fox News Digital.
‘Support for acceptance of Israel has generally been a minority view in Gaza, and most Gazans support the ideal of ‘resistance.’ But a substantial majority oppose Hamas’ brand of resistance — that is, starting wars it can’t win while hiding in bunkers and leaving civilians to suffer the consequences.
‘Meanwhile, a large number of Gazans, while opposed to Israel, adopt a pragmatic outlook on cooperation if it delivers tangible benefit to them. These pragmatists, combined with the minority who believe in coexistence as a principle, constitute a solid base of support for any post-Hamas administration committed to reconstruction.’
UNRWA did not reply to a request for comment by press time.