Following the August 5-7, 2022 military conflict between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Israel, criticism was voiced in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, appearing in both the press and social media. Critics claimed, inter alia, that PIJ is an Iranian proxy organization operating in Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip residents, and that the conflict erupted because of Iran's desire to accelerate the nuclear negotiations in Vienna. One writer criticized the launch of Iranian missiles from within the Gaza Strip's civilian population.
Elements in Saudi Arabia and the UAE also mocked the statements in recent days by commanders of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in which they warned that Israel would pay a heavy price for its crimes in Gaza and that Hizbullah would land a heavy blow on Israel when the tine was right. They asked why Iran was not making good on its threats at a time when Israel was attacking Gaza.
This report reviews the Saudi and UAE criticism of PIJ and mockery of the Iranian threats.
Senior Saudi Journalist: The PIJ Is An Iranian Proxy Being Used By Iran To Set The Vienna Negotiations In Motion
On August 6, 2022, the senior Saudi journalist 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, former editor of the Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and director-general of Al-Arabiya TV, tweeted: "The compass of events [is as follows]: The Gaza residents always pay the price. But how should the battle be understood? It depends whose side you are on – [are you] for or against Iran? [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy organization, just like Hizbullah, [the Iraqi-Shi'ite] Asaib [Ahl] Al-Haq, and the Houthis [in Yemen]. Palestine is not their concern.
"Tehran wanted to set the Vienna negotiations over the Iranian nuclear project in motion, so Hizbullah attacked the [Karish natural gas field] with its UAVs, and [Palestinian Islamic] Jihad fired its missiles."
Al-Rashed's tweet (Twitter.com/aalrashed/status/1555918198972813316?cxt=HHwWiMC41ffW3ZcrAAAA, August 6, 2022)
Saudi Intellectual: "The Palestinian Cause Has Become A Bargaining Chip In The Hands Of.. The [Iranian] Ayatollah Regime"
Saudi intellectual Turki Al-Hamad tweeted: "It is apparent that if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today this does not shock most Arabs and most of the world's [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, Why [is this so] and who is to blame?
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"Is it because the [Palestinian] side [leading] the confrontation here is an extremist Islamist organization whose activity is subordinate to orders from Iran, which is seeking to reap diplomatic gains [in the nuclear negotiations] in Vienna[?] Or is it because this is an outcome of the Palestinian leaders' cumulative failures throughout history in dealing with the Palestinian cause? Or are all the answers correct?
"I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders and their manipulation of [the Palestinian] cause. From the Arabs' and the world's perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motivates, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime."
Bahraini Journalist: The PIJ-Launched Missile That Misfired And Killed The Children In Jabalya Was An Iranian Missile
UK-based Bahraini commentator and journalist Amjad Taha tweeted that he blames the PIJ for the deaths of three children in Gaza; the tweet included a video clip circulated on social media showing the misfiring of the missile aimed at Israel from the Jabalya neighborhood. He wrote: "We condemn and sharply criticize the missile fire by the terrorists of the [Palestinian Islamic] Jihad movement... The video below clearly [shows] how the launch of an Iranian missile by the [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad movement failed. The missile fell to the ground and as a result the massacre occurred in Jabalya, and the children were martyred..."
UAE Daily: Iran Doesn't Want To Directly Confront Israel – So "Gaza Is The Sole Outlet For An Iranian Response"
In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized the PIJ in a front page story on August 7, 2022, writing that "Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, when the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price." It added that Iran does not want directly confront Israel for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities, and thus "Gaza is the sole outlet for an Iranian response." The report quoted Palestinian sources who claimed that the PIJ, the Palestinian faction closest to Iran and influenced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution in Iran, "prioritizes the Iranian agenda at the expense of the Gaza [residents'] suffering."
Cartoon in the Saudi daily Al-Iqtisadiyya: Iran shouts "I will liberate Jerusalem" while showing Israel a note stating that it should not believe its statements (Source: Al-Iqtisadiyya, Saudi Arabia, August 8, 2022)
Saudi Journalist Mocks Iran: Why Doesn't It Wipe Israel Off The Map As Its Senior Officials Threaten?
Saudi journalist Tariq Al-Homayed wrote in his August 7, 2022 column in the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily: "At a time that Israel is striking PIJ in Gaza in a focused manner, with targeted assassinations and arrests, Iranian Qods Force commander Esmail Qaa'ni declared that Hizbullah is capable of wiping Israel off the map when the time is right. Qaa'ni said on Friday evening [August 5, 2022] that 'the security level in the Zionist entity is on a downward trajectory and Hizbullah members are planning to inflict the coup de grace on the Zionist entity when the time is right.' While emphasizing Iran's support for Hizbullah, he added that 'when Hizbullah members liquidate this counterfeit entity, they will actualize Imam Khomeini's hope of wiping Israel off the face of the map and the globe.'
"The question addressed here to the Qods Force commander and all members of the mendacious resistance is: When will 'the time be right' to remove Israel from the map and the globe... and why not [do it] now in response to Israel's focused attack on Gaza and especially against the [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad movement?...
"Yesterday [August 6], Iranian television quoted IRGC commander Hossein Salami as saying, at a meeting with [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziyyad Nakhaleh, who is in Iran, that 'the Israelis again will pay a heavy price for their recent crimes!' Therefore, the minimum that can be said about these Iranian declarations about Israel is that we are dealing with a diplomatic hallucination and the marketing of illusions to [Iran's] minions, who decided not to use their own common sense and assess events [by] words rather than deeds.
"The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves like every other time that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn't fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon... We are facing an Iranian diplomatic hallucination that has sown only destruction and devastation in the region for four decades, whether in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, or Yemen – not to mention the magnitude of the disaster in Iraq. This situation will change and this hallucination will end only when Iran pays the true price for its crimes in our region."
In a similar vein, UAE academic 'Abd Al-Khaleq 'Abdallah, a researcher at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, D.C. who is considered close to UAE President Mohamed bin ZayedAl-Nahyan, tweeted: "What fool believes the words of Iranian Qods Force commander [Qaa'ni? He stated]: 'We plan to deal with Israel's crimes. Hizbullah in Lebanon will inflict upon it a decisive blow when the time is right, and will erase it once and for all.' This declaration has been repeated for 40 years, and this Iranian force has not liberated a single inch of Palestine, and definitely not Jerusalem."