“The most important fact that has emerged from this is Hamas’s ability to convince all Palestinians of our way,” Zahar said in an interview. “We gave Fatah a full opportunity to implement its way, and it failed.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a Fatah leader, favors a two-state solution to the long-standing conflict that envisions a Palestinian state emerging in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — territories that Israel occupied in the 1967 war.
On Thursday, Abbas, in defiance of American and Israeli wishes, received United Nations approval for upgraded diplomatic status that, in effect, recognizes a Palestinian state in concept alongside Israel.
“This brings nothing to us except disadvantages,” said Zahar, whose home along a sandy street in Gaza City is pocked from what he called “Fatah bullets” from the 2007 fighting. “First, our land is not just the West Bank and Gaza, and that is important. It is all of Palestine.”
The rockets that reached farthest in the recent clash are called M-75s, the number denoting their range in kilometers. Zahar, a doctor by training, said that “they are entirely a Palestinian creation,” rather than something imported from Iran.
There are many more, he said, and more will be made.
But Hamas is also hailing its patrons in Iran, a tactic that appears designed to shame Arab states into providing fresh support. Iran provides the movement with money, training and, according to Israeli officials, other kinds of rockets.
Two new billboards have been put up along Salahuddin Road, the strip’s main north-south highway, thanking Iran in four languages for its support in the recent conflict. In the background, the Palestinian and Iranian flags are shown blending.
Visions of victory, loss
Kamal Ajrami, a 54-year-old police officer, said he believes that a military victory over Israel is possible.
“As much as the Jews did to us, it is different now,” Ajrami said as he left a mosque here. “We have now reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. We are strong, and as they hit us in our houses, they will feel the same now in theirs.”
The lingering dreams of an older generation, though, draw a skeptical response from the younger one.
A poster of Abdullah Muzannar hangs in the window of his family’s sweet shop here. In it, an image of his smiling face is superimposed on a likeness of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque, the central icon in all “martyr” montages.
Muzannar was 19, a university student who wanted to be a chemistry teacher, when he was killed in an Israeli airstrike on the home of a neighbor aligned with Hamas.
Inside the shop, Sami Badawi, 26, works behind a counter crowded with sticky pastries and cakes. On the night before he died, Muzannar rushed to the hospital when he heard that Badawi’s 7-month-old son had been taken there with a fever, staying throughout the night and offering to pay any bills.
“He loved my son,” said Badawi, a tall, rail-thin man with dark circles under his eyes.
He continued, “Victory for what? For the people who died in this war? Abdullah was my best friend, and this was all just losses.”