The Flag March held in Jerusalem on May 29, 2022 on the occasion of Israel's Jerusalem Day, passed with relatively little incident, despite concerns that it would result in an escalation of violence on the ground. These concerns were sparked by statements made in advance of the march by Hamas and other Palestinian elements, who threatened to carry out attacks during the march, to renew the rocket fire from Gaza and even to launch a "second Sword of Jerusalem" campaign that would be a continuation of the May 2021 round of Hamas-Israel conflict, which Hamas calls the "Sword of Jerusalem" campaign.
Already in the evening of May 29 and on the morning after, many Palestinian elements in Gaza, the West bank and Jerusalem began voicing anger and criticizing Hamas and the other Palestinian resistance factions for failing to respond to the Flag March as they had threatened and promised to do. This criticism was expressed on social media, and later also in articles in the Palestinian and Arab press. The critics – including Palestinian journalists, analysts, citizens and an activist of the Murabitat organization at Al-Aqsa – expressed disappointment with the Hamas leaders who, they said, had spewed slogans, made bombastic and boastful threats and created large expectations – and did nothing at all. Many of the responses specifically mentioned the statements made by Hamas' leader in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, in an April 30, 2022 speech, in which he called on the Palestinians to prepare for a large-scale campaign against Israel and even promised that this campaign would begin with a salvo of 1,111 rockets fired into Israel.
The Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hizbullah, published a large article about the flagging of the Gazans' morale and about the Palestinians' disappointment and anger with Hamas for its failure to respond to the Flag March. In fact, the article criticized not only Hamas but the entire resistance axis, which includes Iran, Syria and Hizbullah, for "failing to lift a finger" in defense of Jerusalem, and this despite the fact that this axis has recently begun calling itself "the Jerusalem axis" and even promised to launch a regional war against Israel if it continued its actions.
The Al-Hayat Al-Jadida daily, the mouthpiece of the Palestinian Authority, naturally joined the criticism of Hamas, and accused it, in its May 31 editorial, of making empty threats while coordinating and cooperating with Israel.
Yahya Al-Sinwar (Source: Aljazeera.net, May 25, 2022)
This report presents some of the criticism directed at Hamas in this context.
Criticism Of Hamas On Social Media
As stated, many Palestinians on social media expressed anger and disappointment over Hamas' lack of response to the Flag March in Jerusalem.
Gazan Journalist: Enough With The Empty Slogans And Bombastic Threats
Gazan journalist Ayman Al-'Aloul criticized Hamas in a series of tweets and Facebook posts on the day of the march and on the day after it. In one tweet he wrote: "If today [March 29] passes without a response, I don't want to hear even one voice selling [us any more] slogans…"
In another post, Al-'Aloul mocked the threats voiced in recent weeks by Hamas officials, including by the movement's leader in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, to target Israel with 1,111 rockets. He wrote: "Go find 1,111 excuses to present to your brother [to justify your lack of response]." In yet another, more serious, post he addressed Hamas, writing, "…Understand, everyone without exception supports the resistance in all its forms. [Our] reservations are about the hyperbole, the exaggerated threats and the boastful speeches. All you need to do is say 'This is who we are and these are our capabilities,' and operate realistically. The exaggerations [only] raise the level of expectations, and that is a heavy burden for the resistance that places it under pressure and affects its performance and preparedness…"
Palestinian Al-Aqsa Activist: We Are Still Waiting For The Response Of The Resistance To The Flag March
Khadija Khweis, a prominent member of the Murabitat organization, which protests against the entry of Jews into the Al-Aqsa compound, tweeted on the morning of May 29: "[Israeli MP Itamar] Ben-Gvir threatened to invade Al-Aqsa and made good on his threat. A large number of settlers invaded Al-Aqsa; public Jewish prayers [took place] all around Al-Aqsa, and we are still waiting [for someone to respond]…"
Gazan Facebook User: The Lack Of Response Is A Complete Disgrace
Gaza resident Mustafa 'Adel posted on Facebook on the night of May 29, 2022: "Anyone who tells you that avoiding a war in Gaza was a smart thing to do should shut up. Why was it considered smart today, but not in the four previous wars?! After the latest campaign there was so much talk [about Hamas' achievements in it] that some people believed the liberation [of Palestine] would occur within a year. My brothers [in Hamas], it's ok to display your capabilities, but why do you promise great things and then, when action is required, vanish from the scene?...
"What happened today [i.e. the lack of response to the Flag March] was a total disgrace, and no one can convince the public that it was natural, no matter how many excuses are provided…"
Facebook Users: We Don't Trust The Lying Resistance
Other Facebook users likewise voiced criticism. After the Palestinian "Ramallah News" website posted a photo on its Facebook page showing journalists standing on a Gaza roof waiting for rocket launches by Hamas, one Gazan commented sarcastically: "They would have been better off going to sleep."
Another post on the Ramallah News Facebook page, linking to an Israeli media article discussing the reasons for the Gazan factions' inaction, also elicited sarcastic comments against Hamas. One reader commented: "The mask has fallen from the face of those who trade in the religion and in dollars, the mercenaries of Qatar and Iran." Another wrote: "That is why we are not counting on the lying resistance. There is no resistance, just wheeling and dealing. They do not defend the homeland or the citizens. It's all a lie."
Yet another Ramallah News post that elicited comment was a notice by "the national and Islamic forces" calling on the people of the West Bank to "increase the popular resistance in order to confront the settlers." A reader from Jenin commented "Leave us alone," and another wrote, "What [national and Islamic] forces, exactly?"
Lebanese Daily Al-Akhbar: Gazans Are "Disappointed," "Furious" At Lack Of Response From Hamas And Resistance Axis
In a lengthy article published May 31, 2022, the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar claimed that Hamas' supporters were "furious" and "disappointed" with the movement and with the resistance axis for failing to respond to the Flag March and to the "aggression" against Jerusalem, as they had they promised to do: "There is accusation, rebuke and controversy… There is unceasing debate on the streets, in the coffee shops, and on social media about the slump in morale caused by the resistance's failure to respond… Some regard [Hamas'] claims, [that its decision] had been rational and wise, as an attempt to cover up its weakness and its inability to initiate action… The point that is likely to remain central in these debates is the high level [of expectations] created by the resistance. This was most conspicuous, for example, in statements by Hamas' leader in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, who kept repeating that the first salvo of rockets [fired at Israel] would comprise over 1,111 rockets, and that the 'Jerusalem axis' was ready to launch a regional war if Israel harmed Al-Aqsa."
The article went on to quote various analysts and Palestinian citizens who criticized Hamas and the resistance axis, which has recently begun to call itself the 'Jerusalem axis,' for failing to respond to the Flag March. Political scientist Isma'il Muhammad told the daily that May 29 was "a day of great disappointment, not only because Gaza was unable to respond, but also because the resistance axis, which [controls] extensive territories and can maneuver in arenas stretching from Lebanon through Syria and Iraq to Yemen, did not lift a finger…" He wondered: "Why do they call themselves 'the Jerusalem axis' yet do nothing to defend Jerusalem[?] [Even] a single rocket or drone launched [at Israel] from neutral territory [i.e., areas other than Israel or the Palestinian territories] would have completely changed the picture…"
A young man named Muhammad Al-Masri told the daily that "Sunday [May 29] was an opportunity for everyone to settle scores [with Israel]… Wouldn't it have been apt for Syria to fire at least one rocket in response to [Israel's] invasion of its airspace and the numerous members of [Syria's] air defense forces who are killed every day? Shouldn't the Islamic Republic [of Iran] have taken revenge on Israel for the many [Iranian] leaders the Mossad assassinates every year?… Wouldn't it have been most honorable of them to avenge this blood by ruining a great Zionist achievement like what happened the day before yesterday [on May 29] [?]…"
Editorial In Palestinian Authority Daily: The 1,111 Lies Of Yahya Al-Sinwar Have Been Exposed
As stated, the Palestinian Authority (PA) daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida joined the criticism directed at Hamas for its lack of military action in response to the Flag March. It in its May 31 editorial, titled "1,111 Lies!," the daily wrote: "…There is a failure that cannot be ignored, which is the failure of Hamas' false slogans… The number 1,111 is a fairytale invented by Al-Sinwar… a fairytale of bragging and boasting whose author, [Al-Sinwar], thought that Hamas shouting out numbers would have the same effect as [Hamas actually firing] that number of rockets, which it claimed were ready [for firing] in response to any Israeli violation at Al-Aqsa!... Did Al-Sinwar [start] thinking rationally when he saw the situation becoming heated, and [therefore] hold back his 1,111 rockets? Or did the events on the ground [i.e., Hamas' lack of response] have to do mainly with the understandings [that Hamas reached with Israel] in hopes of receiving further easements that it wants to receive? Hamas displayed its commitment to these understandings yet again when it deployed its militias along Gaza's border [with Israel] in order to keep the wounded Gaza from carrying out any military action against the occupation forces!
"The fact is that… just as we were certain that Al-Sinwar was [merely] boasting and bragging, and that his understandings [with Israel] were the most important factor in the considerations of his movement, Hamas, we were also glad that Al-Sinwar [eventually] held back his rockets, because another aggressive Israeli war against the wounded [Gaza] Strip would mean further devastation and destruction and more innocent victims. If this is correct, [we can say that] Al-Sinwar's rockets recently targeted the residents of Gaza themselves, now that it has become clear that [Hamas' threats] are nothing but lies and boasts meant to tighten its grip on the wounded [Gaza] Strip and its residents. All we can do now is say: Remember this number, 1,111. It is the number of illusions and lies."
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9985 - In Advance Of Israel's Jerusalem Day And Planned Flag March, Palestinians On Social Media Urge Masses To Mobilize In Jerusalem To Prevent The March With Their Bodies And Blood, Call For Attacks, Threaten Renewed Rocket Fire From Gaza – May 26, 2022.
 The Murabitoun (literally, "fighters on the front lines"), and their feminine counterparts, the Murabitat, are groups of Palestinian activists at the Al-Aqsa compound who maintain a constant presence there to prevent and protest the entry of Jews.
 See MEMRI TV Clip No. 9527, Hamas Gaza Leader Yahya Sinwar: We Will Desecrate Synagogues Throughout The World If Al-Aqsa Is Desecrated; Israel Wants A Religious War – We Accept The Challenge; This Will Scorch The Earth, Change The Planet; Palestinians Should Carry Out Lone Wolf Attacks; Israeli-Arabs Should Prepare Their Guns, Cleavers, Axes, Knives, May 30, 2022.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9946 - On International Qods Day, Instituted By The Iranian Regime, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah And Other Iran Allies Call For Jihad Against Israel, Threaten Regional War – May 4, 2022.
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