May 16, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11332

Arab Journalists: Hamas Is Responsible For Israel's Incursion Into Rafah; Its Arrogant And Foolish Policy Aggravates The Situation, Puts Gazan Lives In Danger

May 16, 2024
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 11332

Recent articles in the Egyptian and Saudi press hold Hamas responsible for Israel's ground offensive in Rafah. The authors of the articles note that Hamas's May 5, 2024 rocket attack on the Kerem Shalom border crossing, in which four Israeli soldiers were killed and several others were wounded, and which was carried out while Egypt was making intensive efforts to promote a truce agreement between the two sides, torpedoed any chance of reaching an agreement and also gave Israel an excuse to launch its operation in Rafah. The journalists criticize Hamas for having the audacity to carry out such an attack while participating in the Cairo talks, and claim that its diplomatic ignorance, its arrogance, and its folly put the Gazans' lives in danger and aggravated the situation in the Strip.

The following are translated excepts from these articles:

Egyptian Journalist: Hamas Destroyed Egypt's Efforts To Arrange A Truce And Gave Netanyahu An Excuse To Enter Rafah

Hussein Yousuf, a columnist for the Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', wrote on May 6, 2024 under the title "Regional Stability Is Being Put To The Test; Hamas Handed Netanyahu The Keys To Rafah," wrote:

"All the world's countries are following the situation in Palestinian Rafah after the Israeli occupation army surprised everyone and asked the residents of eastern Palestinian Rafah to immediately evacuate to the center of the Strip while threatening a ground attack on the city [of Rafah]…

"What is surprising is that, while Egypt was leading the negotiations between Hamas and Israel with wisdom and talent, investing every effort in bringing the sides closer and coming up with creative solutions for the disagreements that the negotiations encountered, and was close to officially announcing that the negotiations had succeeded and that the sides had agreed on a truce and on the release of the hostages ahead of a longer truce and a ceasefire agreement so as to reverse the [Israeli] decision to enter Rafah and [thereby] save thousands of Palestinian residents – [precisely at that juncture] Hamas carried out its operation in Kerem Shalom which rekindled the [tension] and gave the Israeli side an excuse to stop the negotiations and reraise the issue of the invasion of Rafah. It was as though Netanyahu was waiting for that opportunity to activate the Western media that is biased in his favor and instruct it to tell the world that Hamas is disinterested in peace, negotiations, or even a truce, as evident from [the fact that] it operated against the Israeli troops while negotiations were underway in Cairo.

"Because of the operation carried out by [Hamas' military wing] the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades against the Israeli soldiers, in which four of them were killed, Egypt's intensive and energetic efforts to promote the truce negotiations went to waste. Cairo was strongly pressing for an agreement under which a truce would be declared in return for the release of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas, after which the terms of a permanent ceasefire would be outlined so as to preserve the lives and the dignity of the Gazans. Many analysts were surprised and wondered how Hamas could send a delegation to the talks in Cairo and at the same time carry out an operation that would destroy and kill the negotiations and undermine the Egyptian efforts…"[1]       

Egyptian Columnist: It Is No Longer Possible To Remain Silent Over Hamas's Conduct

Similar statements were made the same day by Khaled Harib, a columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Dustour. He wrote: "During the last round of the truce negotiations in Cairo we witnessed the strangest behavior a political faction could engage in. Just as the deal on the table was ready to be signed, we witnessed a shelling of the Kerem Shalom crossing, and Hamas arrogantly claimed responsibility for it and then left Cairo, [so] nobody signed [the agreement]. The Gazans, who were looking to Cairo and dreaming of an end to their suffering, are broken and sad, and the displaced persons in Rafah have put their faith in Allah while hoping for [an agreement] that was [already] complete.

"This bleak situation can no longer be accepted in silence, and it has become a duty to expose it in order to break the culture in which no voice [dares to] speak louder than the war [itself]… Voices will now be raised in order to blackmail whoever disagrees with Hamas's policy and to accuse him of everything from ignorance to espionage. Such is the Arabs' situation and such is our political culture…

"I believe that we will not win the war in Gaza unless we speak out during the war, note our concerns, and question the details: What exactly does Hamas want? Is it negotiating in order to defend its political future or the lives of its leaders? Is it really interested in democracy and the rights of the Gazan citizens, or is it [just] an arm of a mindless [foreign] force?

"I am well aware that I sound bitter. But, as I noted at the beginning of the article, it is no longer possible to remain silent. Whether Hamas signs a truce agreement or not, it may be subject to judgement as long as innocent Gazans pay the price."[2]

Saudi Columnist: Hamas Gave Israel An Excuse To Enter Rafah

In his column in the Saudi state daily Okaz, journalist Hamoud Abu Taleb wrote that Hamas provided Israel with a pretext to enter Rafah:

"The current escalation in Gaza peaked on Tuesday [May 7, 2024] when Israel redeployed on the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing, two days after Hamas's military wing, the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, carried out a rocket attack that killed and wounded a number of [Israeli] soldiers. As a result, Rafah, where over 1.5 million displaced people are crowding, as well as the rest of the Gaza Strip, were cut off from aid deliveries of food, medicines, and all vital needs until yesterday [May 8], when Israel opened the Kerem Shalom crossing at the behest of international [elements] and following U.S. pressure.

"This time, things went beyond a confrontation between Israel and Hamas, causing security tension on the Egyptian side [of the Rafah crossing], and some are trying to exacerbate [this tension] and use it in a populist manner in an attempt to involve Egypt in a direct confrontation with Israel, on the grounds that Israel has violated the terms and protocols of the peace agreement with Egypt.

"It cannot be ruled out that the firing of the rockets by the Al-Qassam [Brigades] in those areas and at that time was a calculated and deliberate attempt to achieving this goal, although Egypt is doing everything it can and using all its cards to save the situation in Gaza in general and in Rafah in particular. These Egyptian efforts yielded an agreement proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza, but Hamas was slow to respond to it, [thereby] providing Israel with another excuse, in addition to the rocket attack on Sunday, to reoccupy the Rafah crossing and cut off Gaza's only lifeline…

"The diplomatic ignorance, the folly, and the arrogance displayed by Hamas contributed to the deterioration and led to this serious phase which threatens to get even worse… On October 7, Hamas endangered the people of Gaza by ignoring the power-balance on the ground and giving Israel an excellent opportunity to go wild in Gaza and the U.S. an excuse to support it. Now [Hamas] is providing yet another excuse…"[3]

Senior Saudi Journalist: Hamas Used Rafah As Its Last Bargaining Chip, And Once Again Misread The Events

Writing on May 8, 2024 in his column in the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, senior Saudi journalist Tariq Al-Homayed likewise attacked Hamas, stating that Rafah was its last bargaining chip and that it misread reality, as usual. He wrote: "The fact that Hamas agreed to a truce on the evening of May 6, and in that particular manner  – after Israel declared an evacuation of the people of Rafah that very morning – reveals that the last card Hamas is betting on is not even the Israeli hostages but rather Rafah itself.

"What happened, according to news reports and statements throughout that day, is that Hamas accepted a version of the truce [agreement] that had not been agreed upon, as evident from the fact that its consent surprised not only the Israelis but also the White House, the international community, and even the mediators, I believe.  Hamas's consent to a truce came after Israel announced a partial evacuation of the people of Rafah on the morning of May 6, which meant that the Israeli invasion was about to begin. Hamas obviously wanted to complicate matters for Israel in the domestic arena and to embarrass it in the international arena.

"But what Hamas failed to understand at the time is that the side that has continued to kill and massacre for nearly six months – namely Israel – is not in the least concerned about the international community or even about the pressure within Israel [to release] the hostages…

"Another point Hamas failed to understand is that, by announcing [its consent to] a truce in this manner, it had exposed that its last bargaining chip was not even the hostages but rather Rafah…

"The upshot of all this is that Hamas's position has become weak in the international arena, not to mention on the ground. The disaster Hamas caused with its October 7 operation has now brought Israel to invade Rafah, which means that Gaza is now under occupation again, as it was before 2005.

"The truth is that Hamas misconstrued the developments, as usual, and misconstrued Israel's conduct and the approach of the international community. This is why it trapped itself in this harsh and embarrassing situation and weakened all its bargaining chips vis-à-vis Israel while also weakening the mediators…

"Hamas used up all its cards while forgetting or ignoring the power-balances and forgetting that the situation after October 7 is unlike what it was before this date. Hamas did not understand that Iran had abandoned it, just as it misread the mindset of the international [community]…"[4]


[1]  Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), May 6, 2024.

[2] Al-Dustour (Egypt), May 6, 2024.

[3] Okaz (Saudi Arabia), May 9, 2024.

[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 8, 2024.

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