October 8, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10835

Pakistani Dailies Express Support For Hamas Attack In Israel, Predict Halt In Saudi-Israel Normalization Process

October 8, 2023
Saudi Arabia, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10835

On October 8, 2023, a day after the Hamas attack in Israel – newspapers in Pakistan published editorials, expressing support for the attack, criticizing Israeli policies on Palestinians, calling for a "just solution" to the Palestinian issue, and predicting that efforts by Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations to normalize relations with Israel will be paused now. In Pakistan, since the country, which today has nuclear weapons, was created in 1947, public opinion, driven by Islamic antisemitism, has been mostly hostile to Jews and Israel, and recent media reports had expressed concerns that Pakistan could be one of the Islamic states likely to normalize relations with the state of Israel.[1]

Soon after the October 7, 2023, attack by Hamas, the Foreign Office of Pakistan issued a largely neutral statement, calling on "the international community to come together for cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians, and for a lasting peace in the Middle East."[2] However, a statement was also issued by former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, which is seen to be reflecting the Pakistani public's view. He said in a post, in English, on X (formerly Twitter): "Ending Israel's illegal occupation, settlement expansion on Palestinian land, and oppression against innocent Palestinians are key for peace, justice, and prosperity in the region. I am not surprised by today's events. What else can one expect when Israel continues to deny Palestinians their legitimate right to self-determination and statehood? What else, after daily provocations, attacks by occupation forces and settlers, and raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque and other holy sites of Christianity and Islam? The world must recognize that durable peace requires: ending occupation of Palestinian land, recognizing the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, and upholding Palestinians' right to independence and sovereignty."[3]

This report includes excerpts from editorials in three English-language Pakistani newspapers: The News, Dawn, and The Express Tribune. Most images included in this dispatch are the screenshots from the frontpages from popular Urdu-language dailies.

Frontpage of Urdu daily Roznama Express – the main headline reads: "Hamas's attacks from land, air and sea – 250 Israeli killed; Israeli bombing on Gaza – 232 Palestinians martyred." The sentence above the main headline reads: "Under Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, 7,000 rockets were rained; Fighters entered Israel by motorbikes, paragliding, boats; Major-General among twenties of Zionist soldiers taken captive." The sentence below the main headline reads: "Al-Qassam Brigade broke border posts and targeted military posts around Gaza Strip, liberated Israeli bases on the border; Tanks, military vehicles set afire; Clashes on 22 sites; More than 1,100 Zionists wounded; Three senior commanders of Islami Jihad among the martyrs."

Following are excerpts from an editorial in The News daily:[4]

The News Daily: "Yesterday, The Famed Palestinian Resistance May Just Have Sprung One Of The Biggest Surprises On The Israeli State, With Hamas Launching A Sudden Multi-Front Attack Into Israel"

"That 'the Palestinian experience is the core experience of the entire Middle East' – attributed to Edward Said by some – has rung true time and again – as a people forced to move out of their homes, their lands, their whole existence have been gaslighted and ghettoized by a colonizer that has the world's biggest powers on its side. The Palestinian people have resisted the brutal occupation by Israel for over 70 years, only to be even more brutally crushed.

"Yesterday, the famed Palestinian resistance may just have sprung one of the biggest surprises on the Israeli state, with Hamas launching a sudden multi-front attack into Israel early morning Saturday [October 7, 2023], leading to the deaths of nearly 100 Israelis with another 800 injured. That Israel was taken by surprise would be an understatement, given the kind of surveillance the occupying force has used over the years in the ghettos that Palestinians are shoved into.

"But, quick to react and in keeping with its historical violence, Israel's response was to say that this means 'war,' with air raids into Gaza killing at least 200 Palestinians and injuring nearly 2,000. The numbers will likely go up as Israel's response is feared to be apocalyptic – which is saying something for a state that has consistently chosen to unleash the most horrific war crimes over a people it has declared war on for the last seven decades.

"The response from the Arab countries has been some unequivocal and some lukewarm condemnation of Israeli aggression in the occupied territories with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar backing Palestine and Hamas..."

"Pakistan's Historical Stance Is More Clearly Reflected In A Statement By Former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Who... Asked The World To Recognize That 'Durable Peace Requires Ending Occupation Of Palestinian Land'"

"Meanwhile, Pakistan's Foreign Office in a middle-ground approach has said that world powers should 'come together for cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians and for a lasting peace in the Middle East.' Pakistan's historical stance is more clearly reflected in a statement by former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif who highlighted Israeli occupation, the transgressions and oppression by the Zionist state, and asked the world to recognize that 'durable peace requires ending occupation of Palestinian land.'

"As cries of 'from the river to the sea' resonate across Middle East and progressive social media accounts, the West has much to reckon with. For now, the hypocrisy is for all to see: countries like the U.S. that have waged wars on a whole spectrum of nations across the globe are asking for 'terrorists' in Palestine to not 'attack' the Israeli state.

"What they conveniently forget is how Israel has behaved in the past seven decades – ethnic cleansing, settler colonialism, occupation, cutting off water supplies to Palestinians and even harvesting organs of dead Palestinians. The West will wax eloquent on Russia being an aggressor in the Ukraine war while at the same time siding with an obvious oppressor and aggressor."

"On The Top Of The List Of Concerns Now For Palestine Is: What Comes Next? Netanyahu's Israel Has Already Been Criminal When It Comes To Treating Palestinians; Their Counter-Offensive Promises To Be Even Worse"

"On the top of the list of concerns now for Palestine is: what comes next? Netanyahu's Israel has already been criminal when it comes to treating Palestinians; their counter-offensive promises to be even worse – especially since this is probably one of the biggest intel failures Israel has had to date, something Netanyahu would like to brush under an earth-shatteringly brutal response. He will no doubt be supported by much of the West.

"The question is: who will come to the aid of the Palestinians? The two million Palestinians living in Gaza have been denied the right to clean water, healthcare, and jobs. They are prisoners in their own land and the response from the rest of the world to Israel's butchery has always been tepid. What Israel has been doing in Gaza is collective punishment for a crime no one committed.

"Having been unable to sap the thirst for freedom, it has made the people of Gaza pay for demanding their essential rights. No one wants a war – and death of civilians anywhere is not an ideal solution – but the miserable state the Palestinians have been placed in has left them with no option but to fight. What is 'peace' if it's under a brutal occupation? All the Palestinians have ever asked for is for dignity and the right to live. How does that equal a state that has waged war on their bodies for decades on end?"

The front page of the Urdu daily Roznama Ummat had several reports regarding the Hamas attack on Israel. The top headline reads: "The Western cat is out of the bag, The American announcement of backing Israel." The main headline reads: "Hamas showed Israel stars in the day." The sentence above the main headline reads: "Operation Al-Aqsa Storm begins; Destruction at 160 places with 5,000 rockets; 250 Zionists killed, 900 wounded." Another headline reads: "Appeals of the captive Israeli soldiers; mujahideen made them miserable."

Following are excerpts from The Express Tribune editorial:[5]

The Express Tribune: "The Armed Wing From Gaza Made Israelis Bite The Dust As They Were, Perhaps, Caught Off-Guard, And Air Raid Sirens Sounded Across The Southern And Central Territories Of The Jewish Entity"

"The Middle East mosaic stood torpedoed on Saturday as Hamas surprised the Zionist state with a salvo of rocket attacks and intruded deep into its territory. This is one of the major upsets in the last many years, and the first escalation since the Palestinian militia fought a 10-day war in 2021. The armed wing from Gaza made Israelis bite the dust as they were, perhaps, caught off-guard, and air raid sirens sounded across the southern and central territories of the Jewish entity.

"The shock and awe is still being measured in Tel Aviv and Washington, as many of the Israeli villages have been reportedly taken over by the resistance forces by marching on from one of the biggest open-air concentration camps in the world.

"Hamas, while calling upon other comrades in the West Bank and other enclaves across the region to buckle up its initiative, has literally signed on for a war of nerves. The Jewish response too is heavy as Tel Aviv flew sorties across the Occupied West Bank and Gaza, giving no time for the Palestinians to dig in their heels. The casualties in occupied territories will surely be on an upscale, but the jittery point is that Israel too has taken scores of victims from the Hamas fireworks."

"This Ongoing Conflict Will Surely Have Its Impact On The Diplomatic Canvas, As Saudi Arabia And Other Muslim States Contemplating Recognition Of Israel Will Have To Pause And Think Anew"

"The unpredicted and surprising assault from Hamas has simply underscored the fact that Israel and the Arab states were in a feel-good diplomatic exercise of their own, undermining the volatility of the issue by overlooking a permanent territorial settlement of Palestinian imbroglio.

"This ongoing conflict will surely have its impact on the diplomatic canvas, as Saudi Arabia and other Muslim states contemplating recognition of Israel will have to pause and think anew. It comes as an opportunity for Riyadh to prevail over Tel Aviv and make it realize that militancy can only be dumped if a political outcome is attained on the basis of a 'Two-State Solution.'

"But as far as Palestinians are concerned, the rift and division in their political rank and file will continue to act as an impediment, singling out Hamas for its adventurism and once again putting it on the receiving end."

The coverpage of Urdu daily Roznama Nawa-i-Waqt – the main headline reads: "Hamas's Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, 250 Zionists Killed; Israel's Vicious Bombing, 210 Palestinians Martyred." The sub-headline noted that "Qatar, Iran greet [Hamas]."

Following are excerpts from an editorial in Dawn:[6]

Dawn Daily: "Rabid Extremists Have Been Staging Increasingly Provocative Marches In The Occupied City Of Jerusalem, Taunting Palestinians On The Grounds Of Al-Aqsa; They Have Also Been Involved In Desecrating Churches In The Holy City, And Attacks On Christian Pilgrims And Residents, Emboldened By A Racist Government"

"Many Western states have issued typically sanctimonious statements criticizing Hamas, and reiterating Israel's right to defend itself. Yet they choose to ignore what has led to the current conflagration: the far-right government that runs Israel has unleashed a reign of terror upon the Palestinians.

"According to the UN, over 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers (before yesterday's declaration of war) – the highest number in 18 years. At the time of writing, another 200 Palestinians in Gaza had been killed in a single day's bombardment, a blood-soaked tally that is bound to rise.

"Moreover, rabid extremists have been staging increasingly provocative marches in the occupied city of Jerusalem, taunting Palestinians on grounds of Al-Aqsa. They have also been involved in desecrating churches in the holy city, and attacks on Christian pilgrims and residents, emboldened by a racist government that seeks to ethnically cleanse Palestine of all non-Jews. The situation had been simmering for months, and Saturday's events were the reaction to a sustained cycle of violence and humiliation."

"The Latest Escalation Also Raises A Question Mark Over The Efforts Of Various Muslim States To Normalize Ties With Israel; The Palestine Question Cannot Be Resolved Unless A Just Solution Is Found"

"All sides need to exercise restraint, and to avoid civilian targets. Yet knowing Israel's historical desire for bloodlust, it is the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza, who will pay a heavy price as women, children and the elderly are decimated by Tel Aviv's war machine, even as Israel's foreign friends trumpet its right to 'self-defense.'

"The latest escalation also raises a question mark over the efforts of various Muslim states to normalize ties with Israel. The Palestine question cannot be resolved unless a just solution is found, one where the Palestinians have a viable state that is secure and financially self-sufficient, where those ethnically cleansed over the decades by the Zionists have the right to return to the land of their forefathers, and where illegal settlements are permanently dismantled.

"Unless the Palestinians receive justice, the cycle of violence will continue, with Israel periodically beating them into submission. No fanciful deal sidestepping the core issue of Palestinian nationhood will ever deliver, no matter what slick PR is employed. The Israeli occupation needs to end, and the Palestinian people need justice."


[2], October 7, 2023.

[3], October 7, 2023.

[4] The News (Pakistan), October 8, 2023.

[5] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), October 8, 2023.

[6] Dawn (Pakistan), October 8, 2023.

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