October 20, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10895

Egyptian Writer Dalia Ziada: Gaza Hospital Bombing Benefits Hamas; Hamas Is A Terrorist Organization And Will Remain So; Innocent Civilians On Both Sides Pay The Price For This Terrible War

October 20, 2023
Egypt, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10895

Since the October 7, 2023 Hamas attack on Israel, and Israel's subsequent military response, Egyptian liberal writer Dalia Ziada, who is director of the MEEM Center for Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean Studies, has actively addressed and analyzed these unfolding events and their consequences. She has been unreserved in her criticism of Hamas and its supporters, and of those who celebrated the October 7 attack.

Ziada wrote that "Hamas will always remain a terrorist organization, and history will remember that it dug its own grave after decades of wreaking havoc in the entire region, not just in Israel." Addressing Egyptians that celebrated Hamas's "crimes against innocent Israeli civilians," she advised them not to forget that Hamas has also wreaked havoc in Sinai, costing the lives of Egyptian soldiers.

Rejecting the allegations that Israel was responsible for the bombing of Gaza's Al-Ahli hospital on October 17, 2023, Ziada emphasized that Israel was unlikely to carry out such an act, which benefitted only Hamas by outraging the international community and Israel's allies in the region. She also noted that, like anyone else trying to discuss the war in a rational manner, she has received threats from Hamas supporters due to her stance.

Ziada expressed criticism of Egypt's position in the ongoing conflict, asserting that the Egyptian government has "picked the wrong card this time" by blaming Israel for instigating the brutal attack led by Hamas against Israeli civilians. President Al-Sisi, she speculated, presumably did this in order to gain popular support ahead of the upcoming elections and in order to distract Egyptians from Egypt's economic and political woes. However, she argued, this position will only weaken Egypt's role as a regional leader and allow Hamas to gain strength in Sinai and threaten Egypt's security.

Slamming the prevalent Egyptian discourse that celebrates military victories against Israel instead of peace agreements, Ziada wrote that this mindset cultivates extremists who "call for the extermination of Israelis and all Jews on the face of the Earth." She therefore called to reform the media discourse regarding Israel in Egypt and other Arab countries.

The following are some of Ziada's comments on this issue.

"Do Not Forget The Egyptian Soldiers Who Lost Their Lives At The Hands Of The Terrorist Groups Created By Hamas In Sinai"

Ziada condemned Egyptians who support and sympathize with Hamas and described them as "partners" of Hamas in its crimes against the people of Israel. In an October 9, 2023 post on her X (formerly Twitter) account, she wrote: "To the Egyptians celebrating today the crimes of Hamas against innocent Israeli civilians... Do not forget the destruction that the organization sowed in Sinai, which Egypt is still suffering the effects of to this day. Do not forget the Egyptian soldiers who lost their lives at the hands of the terrorist groups created by Hamas in Sinai.

"Comparing a terrorist organization like Hamas, which committed heinous acts targeting innocent civilians, to the Egyptian army in the October 1973 war [with Israel] is a significant attempt to mislead. The Egyptian army was the army of a state fighting against another state's army, and the war ended with a peace agreement between the two countries," she wrote.[1]

"We Egyptians Celebrate Our War With Israel, But Never Celebrated Our Historic Peace Agreement With It"

Ziada's tweet continued: "Our problem in Egypt is that to this day, we still celebrate the anniversary of the war and boost the discourse of hatred against Israel, but we have never celebrated the historic peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. All this while Israel extends a hand of goodwill to Egypt and treats it as a neighbor and partner.

"Then, we wonder where the extremists who fill the streets of Egypt and many Arab countries, celebrating the crimes of Hamas and similar terrorist organizations, come from, calling for the extermination of Israelis and all Jews on the face of the Earth.

"We must rectify the media discourse in Arab countries regarding Israel, especially in countries that have a security and economic alliance with Israel, like Egypt.

"As for Hamas, it will always remain a terrorist organization, and history will remember that it dug its own grave after decades of wreaking havoc in the entire region, not just in Israel."[2]

"The Tragic Hospital Blast Only Served Hamas And The Palestinian Islamic Jihad"

Questioning the widespread allegation that Israel is responsible for the bombing of Gaza's Al-Ahli hospital, Ziada tweeted in English on October 17, 2023: "Why would Israel need to bomb a hospital in Gaza, causing such a humanitarian tragedy and jeopardizing its hard-won regional friendships and international community's solidarity, if Israel had already agreed to participate in the Jordan-led quadrilateral summit for de-escalation? Another question: Why would Israel need to fire a rocket in that direction and with that purpose, only a few hours before the expected visit of the US President Biden?"

Ziada then argued that the Gaza hospital tragedy "serves no one other than Hamas and its fellow Islamic Jihad militia." Elaborating on her argument, she wrote:

"1- The more bloodshed, the greater the shock worldwide, and the more significant the support they will garner from Arab people and governments. Don't be shocked! Hamas wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice some Palestinians for sympathy. See the video below (from 2021) to witness how Hamas militants humiliate the Palestinian people in Gaza every day.

"2- The hospital disaster will force Israel's IDF to delay the planned ground operation, allowing Hamas to remain in control of Gaza for a longer period and giving them time to regroup while Israel is preoccupied with denying responsibility for the attack.

"3- Canceling the #Jordan-led peace summit to protest the Gaza hospital bombing is a significant win for Hamas and its affiliates, who did not receive an invitation, while the Palestinian Authority did."[3]

"Hamas Is A Terrorist Organization And Will Remain So. Innocent Civilians On Both Sides Are The Ones Who Pay The Price Of This Terrible War"

Ziada and other Arab writers who condemn Hamas on social media platforms are often trolled and insulted by Hamas supporters. Ziada noted that following her post regarding the bombing of the Gaza hospital, she was threatened with physical harm.

On October 18, 2023, she wrote: "As usual, I encountered an exaggerated attack and threats of violence from Hamas committees and their sympathizers (most of whom don't even read English to understand what I wrote in the post) to the extent that I thought I was the one who launched the missile at the hospital!

"Unfortunately, I am not the only one facing attacks from Hamas committees. Anyone who tries to discuss any matter related to the war rationally, with emotions aside, is berated by these individuals. Their goal is simply to continue misleading Arab people in the name of the "Palestinian issue" and to gain false sympathy and legitimacy for the terrorist organization Hamas.

"Hamas is a terrorist organization and will remain so. Innocent civilians on both sides are the ones who pay the price for this terrible war. Meanwhile, Hamas leaders watch the war on TV from luxurious palaces allocated to them in sister Arab capitals!"[4]

"The Egyptian Leadership Picked The Wrong Policy, Blaming Israel For Instigating The Brutal Hamas-Led Attacks On Israeli Civilians"

Ziada has even expressed her disagreement with Egypt's policy regarding the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel. In fact, she said that "Egypt has picked the wrong card this time!" She explained:

"Egypt has always bragged about being the most useful mediator in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, due to its leverage on Hamas and friendship with Israel. However, in the current episode of the Israel-Hamas war, the Egyptian leadership picked the wrong policy card of blaming Israel for instigating the brutal Hamas-led attacks on Israeli civilians. Such a policy could help President al-Sisi widen his popular support base before the presidential elections by appearing like a champion of the Palestinian cause. It is, also, a smart tactic to distract Egyptians from the domestic economic and political glooms. Yet, the state's bias has backfired by further weakening Egypt's regional leadership profile – and perhaps its credibility as a mediator – and put Egypt's national security interests at stake. The same politicians who were cheering on Hamas' brutality, two days ago, are now warning against Hamas militants' leakage into Sinai among the Palestinians fleeing Israel’s retaliation in Gaza, which threatens to reawaken Hamas's loyal terrorist organizations there."[5]

Furthermore, commenting on a statement by Egypt's Foreign Ministry about the October 7 attack, she wrote: "Amidst the horrific scenes of Hamas' attacks on Israeli cities, #Egypt's Foreign Ministry issued a strange statement 'calling upon all involved parties to practice self-control' and describes the ongoing attack by Hamas as a reaction to Israeli 'assault on Palestinian cities.'"[6]

Reacting to a statement by presidential candidate Ahmed Al-Tantawi in which he stated that "resisting occupation and liberating the land is a human, legal, and moral right and duty," she wrote on October 7: "On a similar level, candidates for the Egyptian presidential elections are using the ongoing war in Israel to win voters. This is one example of a popular candidate who made a statement applauding Hamas for killing and terrorizing the Israelis, today! Sadly, he is getting a lot of applause for saying this."[7]


[1], October 9, 2023.

[2], October 9, 2023.

[3], October 17, 2023.

[4], October 18, 2023.

[5], October 13, 2023.

[6], October 7, 2023.

[7], October 7, 2023.

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