Channel NewsAsia

Gaza resistance fighters - hero or terrorist?

Militant groups in Gaza are regarded as terrorists in the West but for many in Gaza and across the Muslim world, they are feted as resistance fighters seeking to establish Palestine as a nation. Channel NewsAsia caught up with some fighters to hear their side of the story.

GAZA CITY: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups in Gaza have spent the last month entrenched in a bitter conflict with Israel's Defence Forces.

They are regarded as terrorists by many in the West but in Gaza and the Muslim world, they are feted as resistance fighters who are seeking to establish Palestine as a nation.

Ten years ago, Palestinian Abu Khaled decided to become a fighter. He's not a member of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, but he does fire rockets into Israel as a member of the National Resistance Brigades - the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

During the latest conflict with Israel, nine members of his family were killed when an Israeli missile targeted his home. But that loss just hardened his conviction for greater security measures. "If you want to be free, you have to carry a weapon in your hands. You don't have to die idle, but die between volleys of rocket fire. This is resistance," he said.

Abu Khaled has lost many friends in the latest round of hostilities but he and his fellow fighters are prepared to fight on, despite Israel's overwhelming military superiority. Israel has one of the strongest armies in the world, yet fighters from Gaza believe their weapons are stronger than Israel's. For them, dying while fighting the enemy is an act of resistance, which is why they see themselves as the winners - at any cost.

But with more than 2000 Palestinians dead, the majority of them civilians, some people in Gaza think that so-called victory is a rather hollow one.

"Both sides have not achieved anything but more deaths of their people, and let's be honest; the only thing we see in Gaza is more destruction. Both the sides are losers, whatever victory they will gain, will still have losses, and family and friends," said Mohammed Abu Muaileq, a former Palestinian fighter. The former rocket-firing brigade member had a major change of heart when he saw that firing rockets was not achieving any political goals so he became a peace activist.

As a Palestinian delegation in Cairo continues to negotiate with Israel and Egypt to open Gaza's borders and lift the blockade, those like Mohammed believe that the ultimate victory will only come through negotiation and greater understanding.