Hamas's violent repression of the social and economic protests against it, that broke out on March 14, 2019 across the Gaza Strip, has been harshly criticized both in Palestinian society and outside of it; criticism was particularly harsh in the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi press featured op-eds and columns justifying the protests and accusing Hamas of terrorism, oppression, and unbridled lust for power and control. The articles stated that Hamas had turned the Gaza Strip into a huge prison for its residents, that Hamas members had become the hangmen of the Gaza people, and that Hamas is in the same camp as terror movements and as the enemies of Saudi Arabia, among them the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, Qatar, Hizbullah, and the Taliban. Several writers even called on the Arab countries to work to expel Hamas from Gaza and to restore Palestinian Authority (PA) control in the Gaza Strip; there were also those who argued that Hamas was more dangerous than Israel for Gaza residents.
Criticism of Hamas was also disseminated on social media; for example, Saudi journalist Azzah Al-Subaie responded to a news item on Hamas's violent dispersion of a demonstration by tweeting, "Hamas promises the public Paradise in the world to come – while its leaders prefer the Paradise of this world" – a reference to Hamas's corruption.
Azzah Al-Subaie's March 20 tweet (Source: @ AzzahHAlsubaie)
The following are translated excepts of articles in the Saudi press criticizing Hamas:
Columnist in Saudi Daily Al-Madina: Hamas Members Have Become Gazans' Hangmen; The Arab Countries Must Expel Them From Gaza
In his March 26, 2019 column in the Saudi daily Al-Madina, Sultan Al-'Anqari criticized Hamas following its suppression of the popular protests in the Gaza Strip, and added that it was using terrorism and repression against its residents and that its rule was no different from that of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Adding that Hamas was motivated by lust for money, and was closing its eyes to the destruction its patron Qatar was wreaking on Arab countries, he also called on the Arab countries to expel Hamas from Gaza and to punish its members, and also to punish Qatar that supports it. He wrote:
"The oppression, the subjugation, and the terrorism that Hamas is using against millions of Palestinian residents in Gaza proves beyond a doubt that we are facing an opportunistic Muslim Brotherhood (MB) movement employing the method used by the corrupt MB, that worships the dinar and the dirham... Since Hamas's coup against the PA, it has made the densely populated Gaza [Strip] into a huge prison. Furthermore, it guards the gates of this prison on Israel's behalf, as [Israel] scratches its back... They [Hamas] have replaced the soldiers of the Israeli occupation as the Gazans' hangmen. Hamas's leader, the head of the snake – MB member Khaled Mash'al... closes his eyes to the destruction and ruin that the regime of the two Hamads [i.e. Qatar] is bringing to the Arab countries, and is indifferent to it, as long as his pockets, and the pockets of his terror gangs in Gaza, are full. Reality tells us that there is no difference between the Emirate of the Taliban in Afghanistan and that of the MB in Gaza...
"Hamas, the agent in Palestine of the deviant leader [Ali] Khamenei, is an obstacle that must be forcibly removed by the Egyptian side via the Rafah crossing, and by the PA. [Hamas] must be placed between hammer and anvil, in order to disarm it and hand [its weapons] over to the PA. Hamas in Palestine is a copy of the party of Satan [i.e. Hizbullah, lit. "party of God"] in Lebanon, and there is no difference between the two. The Arab countries must help the PA retake Gaza from the men of the coup – the Hamas militia – and must punish the terror statelet Qatar, that supports terrorism and division in the Palestinian camp."
March 19, 2019 cartoon in London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "Hamas" maintains its iron grip on a burning "Gaza"
'Okaz Columnist: Hamas Is Capitalizing On Israel's Attacks On Gaza –To Maintain Its Own Power
In his weekly column in the Saudi daily 'Okaz, titled "Sorry, Hamas, I Can't Sympathize [With You]," Saudi writer 'Ali Al-Tawati accused Hamas of capitalizing on the blood of Gaza's residents and encouraging Israeli attacks on civilian targets in the Gaza Strip, with the aim of distancing itself from criticism and staying in power. He presented the Gaza Return Marches and the firing of missiles deep into Israel in recent weeks as major examples of this policy. He wrote:
"I am not the only one who is against [Hamas's] capitalizing on Palestinian blood to advance party and regional agendas; the Gaza residents are [too]. It is they who have been harmed by your [i.e., Hamas's] takeover of them, and by the fact that, from time to time, you sacrifice some of your own kin [i.e., some Gazans] to the Israeli killing machine... as if there were an unwritten agreement between you and the [Israeli] occupation authorities to murder the next generation and to sow fear in the hearts of those who were not killed, that will remain to their dying day...
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"The frequent Israeli attacks against the imprisoned masses [in Gaza] are vital to these [Hamas] leaders... in order to remind the new generations of the Israeli monster and [thus] to justify their [Hamas's] extremism, continued [grip on] power, and control of aid funds and payments from forces in the region...
"When the Hamas leadership in Gaza realized that the Israeli military response to its provocations were limited to bombing [Hamas] command centers, it began, on March 30, 2018, to use a method that could only have been thought up by sons of Satan – called the Great Marches of Return. They pushed the young people towards the fence separating the [Gaza] Strip from Israel, by means of marches aimed at 'returning to Palestine' – yes, they did! [This was only] so that the Israelis would violently attack these young people... but this did not deter Hamas, which capitalizes on blood, and continues to repeat these actions every Friday...
"Evidence that [Hamas's] sacrifice of human victims had become an aim in itself was the events of the evening of March 14, 2019, when two missiles from the Gaza Strip fell near Tel Aviv without causing damage. The Israeli vengeance was to bomb Hamas positions in Gaza – except that Hamas did not like this response because it did not include massacring citizens. Therefore, it [Hamas] attacked again, on March 25, 2019, and we awakened to the news that a missile from Gaza had fallen on a home north of Tel Aviv and wounded its residents. This time, the timing [of the firing of the rocket] was well planned, perhaps in order to avoid exposing the truth about Hamas's takeover of the Gaza residents following the Hamas militias' operation of repression, killing, accusations of treason, and murder against their opponents and against anyone protesting the deteriorating economic situation...
"I hope that the Arab summit set to convene next Saturday [March 30, 2019] will intervene in determining Gaza's fate, by passing a resolution to remove Hamas's hands from it and to appoint the PA to take up the reins of government there, and [also appoint] Egypt and Jordan to oversee talks to finally remove the Gaza siege, in the name of the Arabs and with their guarantee. The tragedy of the innocent civilians there has crossed every line of [tolerable] human suffering."
Al-Jazirah Columnist: Hamas Is Many Times More Dangerous For Gaza Residents Than Israel
Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh stated in his March 24, 2019 column for the Saudi Al-Jazirah daily that Hamas was willing to kill half of the Gaza Strip residents if they opposed its policy, adding that members of political movements such as Hamas, the MB, and the Taliban, as well as Iran, were much more dangerous for the Gazans and the Arabs in general than Israel. He wrote:
"Hamas, that puts on a Muslim face and belongs to the MB, has clashed with the Gaza masses that took to the streets to demonstrate demanding food and medicine and complaining about the unemployment that rises by the day. [It did this] by means of gunfire and clubs, and imprisoned some of them [i.e. the protestors]... It is now clear [to everyone] that this benighted [Hamas] is ready to kill half of Gaza's residents with no regard for religion or human rights when anyone opposes its repressive, tyrannical policy. Hamas attained power in the [Gaza] Strip via the ballot box, waving the slogan 'Institute Sharia for Liberating Palestine,' but as soon as it held the reins of power, it became an authoritarian, tyrannical regime interested in nothing but remaining in power at any price.
"What Hamas is doing is not limited to its own activists; this is the system used by all those who pretend to be Muslims when they attain power... All [our] experience with the Muslim pretenders of our time proves and confirms this, beginning with Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan [through] Sudan under [President Omar] Al-Bashir, who instituted MB doctrine in the country and divided the country in two, to today's Hamas...
"The catastrophe of the Gazans is that they fled the oppression, the takeover and the siege of the Zionists just to fall into tyranny uglier and more loathsome than that of the Israelis. These [Hamas members] who pretend to be Muslims are liars who slaughter [people] in full view, as they repeatedly chant 'Allah Akbar!' Will the Gazans, and the Arabs in general, ever be convinced that these bearded men disguised as Muslims are a danger many times greater for them than the Israeli side?"
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Columnist: The Gazans Gave Hamas Everything It Asked Of Them – But No Longer
In his March 28, 2019 column in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, the Bahraini investigative journalist Dr. Shamsan bin Abdallah Al-Mana'i wrote, under the headline "Hamas Is Closing In On Gaza," expressing support for the Gaza residents against the Hamas regime, and accusing Hamas of repressing its people and turning its back on the Palestinian cause as it formed alliances with foreign elements such as Iran, Hizbullah, and the Syrian regime. He wrote:
"The Gaza residents said this explicitly, with no need for commentary, when they called 'We want to live' when their patience ran out... [At that point] they had no choice but to announce a 'revolution of the hungry,' because the basic human needs are food, shelter, medicines, and jobs.
"The root of this problem is that the Hamas leaders became filled with pride in sin, particularly after the Qatari funds and Hizbullah ballistic missiles were lavished on them. From that time... they entered the international game, and turned their back on the Palestinian cause and on the Gaza residents in particular... They allied with countries and parties completely unrelated to the Palestinian cause – Iran, Qatar, Hizbullah, the Houthis, and the Syrian regime – to the point where Gaza became a huge prison and reached a dead end. Hamas let the Gazans suffer hunger, poverty, and unemployment, and [the Gazans] had no choice but to launch an intifada – but this time not against Israel but against the Hamas leaders...
"No one would believe that Hamas, that once enjoyed widespread popular support and had achievements in the Legislative Council elections, would be the one now repressing and persecuting its people. [Hamas] is now surprised that the Palestinian public... is capable of distinguishing between real slogans and lip service for the media. This [Gaza] public gave Hamas everything it asked, as [this public] faced three hard wars between 2008 and 2014, bore the pain of the siege for 12 years, and gave its blood in Marches of Return for an entire year. [It was willing to do] all this when the aim was clear and worthy of conflict. But when Hamas deviated from this, attempting to distract, extort, and exploit public opinion, it realized how things really are."
 For criticism within Hamas of the violent dispersal of the protests, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7964, Hamas Members, Supporters Criticize Its Suppression Of Economic And Social Protests In Gaza, March 26, 2018.
 Saudi derogatory term for Qatar, stemming from Saudi Arabia's position that Qatar is actually ruled by Hamad Aal Thani, father of current Qatari ruler Emir Tamim Aal Thani, and by former Qatari foreign minister Hamad bin Jassem.
 A play on Khamenei's title, 'Supreme Leader ' of Iran.
 Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), March 26, 2019.
 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), March 28, 2019.
 Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), March 24, 2019.
 From Quran 2:206.
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 29, 2019.