Arab Countries Slam Hamas for Violence in Gaza (Video)

August 7, 2014

3 min read

While Israel’s response to incessant rocket fire from Gaza drew the requisite condemnations from the Arab world and international community, Arab media, as well as the leadership in much of the Arab world, is increasingly open in its criticism of Hamas for instigating and continuing the  the conflict in Israel.

Media sources in Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia have all called out Hamas as being at fault for the current conflict. They have slammed Hamas leaders for using the money that they receive in international aid to propel its radical ideology while at the same time lining their own pockets.

Journalists in those countries blame Hamas’s actions for inviting Israeli counter attacks and prioritizing conflict over the safety of the Gazan population. They have repeatedly criticized Hamas leadership for waging war with Israel while being far from the conflict themselves, a Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) report shows.

“Hamas is losing its legitimacy because it was sacrificing Palestinians while using financial aid to promote its interests,” wrote Al-Gumhouriyya columnist Nagla Al-Sayyid.

Egyptian TV hosts slam Hamas leaders

But more than just the media is holding Hamas responsible. Egypt has led an emerging coalition of Arab states including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, that has, through its silence, effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas.

The Arab world appears to be increasingly frustrated with the terrorist organization’s thirst for war after Hamas had violated five ceasefires with Israel in the past few weeks.

“The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu,” said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC.


Egyptian officials have directly or implicitly blamed Hamas instead of Israel for Palestinian deaths in the fighting, and other moderate Arab states and monarchies have followed suit.

The pro-government Egyptian news media has even gone so far as to rail against Hamas as furthering a regional Islamist plot to destabilize Egypt and being a tool of other radical Islamic regimes trying to destabilize the region.

For the moment, Israel is tacitly enjoying the support of the leaders of conservative Arab states as they share a common enemy, militant Islam.

Egypt and other Arab states, especially the Persian Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are also finding themselves allied with Israel in a common opposition to Iran, a rival regional power that has a history of funding and arming Hamas, and now the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) as well.

For Israel, this change in the Arab states has been relatively liberating.

“There is clearly a convergence of interests of these various regimes with Israel,” said Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to Palestinian negotiators who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington. In the battle with Hamas, Elgindy said, the Egyptian fight against the forces of political Islam and the Israeli struggle against Palestinian militants were nearly identical.

Arab states turn against Hamas

Instead of becoming more isolated, Israel’s government has emerged as an unexpected beneficiary of the ensuing tumult, allowing it to create closer ties with moderate Arab states.

At the same time, Egypt has infuriated Gazans by continuing its policy of shutting down tunnels used for cross-border smuggling into the Gaza Strip and keeping border crossings closed, exacerbating a scarcity of food, water and medical supplies after one month of fighting.

“Sissi is worse than Netanyahu, and the Egyptians are conspiring against us more than the Jews,” said Salhan al-Hirish, a storekeeper in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya. “They finished off the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and now they are going after Hamas.”

“The pendulum of the Arab Spring has swung in Israel’s favour, just like it had earlier swung in the opposite direction,” said Elgindy. “But I am not sure the story is finished at this point.”

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