Photo by Majdi Fathi/TPS on 17 February, 2024

Clan-Based ‘Local Committees’ Emerge in Gaza to Replace Hamas

Public By Baruch Yedid/TPS • 3 March, 2024

Jerusalem, 3 March, 2024 (TPS) -- While Israel is looking for “local entities” to form the basis of Gaza’s post-war government, “people’s committees” have begun operating across the Strip to distribute humanitarian aid.

“Chaos is increasing in the Strip and threatens the lives of the residents,” a Gaza official told TPS.  “Now, when on the one hand the civil distress is worsening and on the other hand it seems that the civil Hamas government has completely collapsed, the powerful families in Rafah are now allowing themselves to operate popular committees in local affairs.”

Sources in the Gaza Strip have told the Tazpit Press Service that “People’s Defense Committees” began operating in the south of the Gaza Strip and especially in the Rafah area in recent days. The sources stressed that these committees are based on the local clans and families, and have no connections to Hamas.

The committees work to prevent Hamas and criminal gangs from stealing aid and restrain traders from price-gouging. The committees’ enforcers are young men, armed with weapons or clubs, wearing bandanas on their heads with the words, “People’s Defense Committees.”

Since the war, the price of basic goods in Gaza has skyrocketed. One Palestinian source in Gaza told TPS that a 25-kilogram sack of flour now sells for more than $1,200.

Meanwhile in northern Gaza, popular committees have begun operating to restore infrastructure such as water and electricity.

“It is not about Hamas organizations, but about local residents who decided to take care of the crumbling infrastructure when the Hamas regime disappeared from the Gaza Strip completely,” a Palestinian source in northern Gaza told TPS.

He added, “This is a rather interesting phenomenon because Israel is trying to base the rule of the day after in the Gaza Strip on local elements, such as those who have begun to act…”

Clans — a social unit of extended families — hold significant importance in Palestinian society, serving as networks of support in social, economic, and political spheres and mediating disputes between families.

Sources also told TPS that protests against Hamas in the Gaza Strip are also based on local organizations such as the “Want to Live Movement.” These protesters have been calling on Hamas to free the Israeli hostages and end the war.

At least 1,200 people were killed and 240 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7. Of the remaining 134 hostages, Israel recently declared 31 of them dead.