EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The photos and particularly the videos of Hamas’s 31st anniversary commemoration in Katiba Square in Gaza evoke the impression of a vibrant, extremely popular movement after 11 years of rule over Gaza. This impression is patently false.
Hamas did its best to create the impression that enormous, enthusiastic crowds attended its recent 31st anniversary commemoration in Katiba Square in Gaza. Its object was to stoke the image of a vibrant movement that remains extremely popular after 11 years of rule over Gaza.
No doubt, the event was impressive, not least because the Israeli air force knocked out the al-Aqsa broadcasting site in November during the largest flare-up since the 2014 confrontation. Hamas proved that it could broadcast live despite the site’s destruction, and the event itself showed no small measure of organizational efficiency.
Women and men were separated by a cordon of Hamas officials in military dress and yellow vests. Green flags were plentiful and the deep podium was impressively adorned. The speeches and the skits, one of which featured an Israeli soldier cowering before his guards, were well orchestrated. In short, the event proceeded like clockwork.