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May 28, 2021 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1579

Throughout Recent Gaza Conflict, Qatari Press Mobilized In Support Of Hamas: Praises Rocket Attacks On Israel In Articles With Antisemitic Motifs; Celebrates Its 'Victory' As Step Towards Liberation Of Palestine

May 28, 2021 | By Z. Harel*
Qatar, Palestine | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1579

Introduction

Qatar's sweeping support for Hamas and the other Gazan terror organizations during their recent round of fighting with Israel[1] was also reflected in the Qatari press's coverage of the events and in articles it published about it. Throughout the conflict, the Qatari establishment papers praised these organizations and served as a platform for their positions, especially for statements by Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya and the head of the movement abroad, Khaled Mash'al, who reside in Qatar.


Front page of May 16, 2021 issue of the Qatari daily Al-Watan: Main headline: "Qatar Supports Palestine"; other headlines: "[Qatari] Foreign Minister in Meeting with Haniya: 'Qatar Stands with the Brothers in Palestine'; "Hamas Political Bureau Head: Resistance – The Blade Defending Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa'"; "Barbaric [Israeli] War Crimes"


Headline on front page of Qatari daily Al-Sharq on May 22, 2021 quotes Khaled Mash'al: "Palestine Can Be Liberated by Supporting the Resistance and Launching a Comprehensive Intifada"

Dozens of reports and articles in the Qatari press praised the firing of rockets into Israel, celebrated the improvement in the military capabilities of the Gazan terror organizations and glorified their operatives as jihad fighters struggling in the cause of Allah. Some of the articles even contained antisemitic themes, presenting the Jews as the enemies of Allah and killers of the prophets and the struggle against them as the fulfillment of Allah's directives in the Quran. Also conspicuous in the papers was criticism against Arab states, especially those who recently signed normalization agreements with Israel, over their inaction in the face of Israel's attacks and the situation of the Palestinians.

The position of the Qatari press was also reflected in cartoons it published, which celebrated the rocket attacks on Israel and the power and sacrifice of the resistance, and even hoped for Israel's demise.

This report reviews some of the articles and cartoons published in the Qatari press during and after the fighting.    

Praise For Rocket Attacks On Israel And For Improvement In Terror Organizations' Military Capabilities

As stated, during the fighting and after it, many reports and articles in the Qatari press  praised the Palestinian terror organizations and their rocket attacks on Israel, and presented their operatives as "waging jihad for the sake of Allah."[2] The articles also celebrated the organizations' military capabilities, while downplaying the abilities of Israel's Iron Dome rocket defense system. For example, the website of the Al-Sharq daily posted a report headed "Iron Dome Is Failing and Palestinian Rockets Are Pulverizing Israel – Each [Iron Dome Interceptor] Missile Costs $100,000."[3]


Report on website of Al-Sharq daily: " Iron Dome Is Failing and Palestinian Rockets Are Pulverizing Israel – Each [Iron Dome Interceptor] Missile Costs $100,000."

'Abdallah Al-'Amadi, a former deputy editor of the daily Al-Sharq and former advisor to Qatar's education minister, wrote in a May 25 article: "[Hamas's military wing,] the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, began sending its messages to the Zionists, one after the other… [and] the Zionist understood the gravity of Gaza's messages, [which appeared in the form of] rockets that lit up the skies over its cities, both near the Gaza Strip and far from it. Moreover, new strategic rockets joined the campaign, compelling [Israel] to close its Ben Gurion international airport, with all the attendant financial losses, and forcing over 70% of the residents of the occupation state to live in shelters… The minute the enemy started attacking, heavy [rocket] barrages were immediately fired in response into many parts [of Israel], and the enemy's Iron Dome [system] was unable to intercept them… A single Zionist airstrike on Gaza was answered with hundreds of Al-Qassam Brigades rockets fired into the enemy's cities, and the message of the [Gaza] Strip was, 'If you do this again, so will we.'

"This reflects an immense reversal on the ground: The enemy has begun to fear the Gazan army more than it fears all the [other] Arab armies. This army has become a regular army with a clear fighting doctrine, a well-ordered and unified structure and  clear impact on the ground. This is in addition to another important characteristic: military manufacture capabilities that can quickly maneuver and transport gear from place to place. Moreover, Hamas is able to impose its decisions on the enemy: it starts the attack at a time and place of its choosing, and the other side can only react."[4]

The editor-in-chief of the Qatari daily Al-Watan, Muhammad Hamad Al-Marri, wrote on May 21: "It is the resistance that led this conflict. It appeared in a new garb, with sharp teeth and greater power than before.  It is as if the teenage boy from the Second Intifada in 2000 has grown up, and [today], in 2021, he has developed an ability to manufacture [weapons], confront [Israel] and overcome the Iron Dome [system] cleverly and professionally. The rockets of the resistance managed to crack the Israeli entity."[5]

Ibrahim Ahmad Al-Ansari, a lecturer at the University of Qatar, wrote in his May 19 column in the daily Al-Raya: "The Palestinian struggle has gone through several phases, and, like mankind, it has moved from the Stone [Age] into the Iron [Age]. The resistance, which began with stones and bare breasts, is now entering the rocket phase. It has gone from the unplanned phase to the phase of clever planning and strategic programs based on knowledge and state-of-the-art technologies."[6]

Displays Of Antisemitism: The Jews Are The Murderers Of The Prophets And The Cursed Enemies Of Allah

Alongside praise for the Palestinian fighters, for the rocket attacks and for the conspicuous improvement in Hamas's abilities, some articles also included antisemitic motifs. Al-Sharq columnist 'Aisha 'Abidan wrote on May 16:  "Allah said [in Quran 8:60], while stressing the importance of power in dealing with the enemies of Allah and His Messenger: 'And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows.' Today glimmerings of power appeared, imposed themselves and shattered all the pompous Arab… agreements [with Israel]. Today, after waiting patiently for 60 years of captivity, destruction, murder and humiliation, the murabitoun [front line fighters] in Gaza carried out Allah's commandment and the directives of the Prophet… [For] are they [the Jews] not the ones whom Allah cursed in his Book [the Quran] after they applied inappropriate descriptions to Him? [According to Quran 5:64,]: 'The Jews said, “Allah is tight-fisted.” May their fists be tied and they be condemned for what they said. Rather, He is open-handed, giving freely as He pleases.'  May Allah show His strength by destroying the Zionists in their homes and defeating them…"[7]

Palestinian journalist Samir Barghouti wrote in his May 23 column in the Qatari daily Al-Watan: "Palestine is currently experiencing a dangerous and sensitive phase as it waits for [the fulfillment of] the divine promise [that appears in] the Torah [sic] and the Quran, [namely] that the last of the Jews who were brought to Palestine after being forced into exile will leave Palestine and resume their wandering, [a fate] that was imposed on them for murdering the prophets and renouncing the word of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad…"[8]

 In this context it should be noted that this is not the first time antisemitic contents appear in the Qatari media as part of criticism against Israel.[9]

The Resistance Is Moving Towards The Liberation Of Palestine, Will Drive The Jews Back Where They Came From

Many of the articles in the Qatari press presented the outcome of the recent round of fighting as a victory for the terror organizations in Gaza and a step towards the liberation of Jerusalem and of Palestine as a whole. For example, Al-Sharq columnist 'Ali Al-Na'imi wrote on May 23: "Had the Palestinian resistance kept up this military confrontation, it would have won a decisive victory and liberated Palestine, even though its military and logistic resources are small compared to the arsenal of the Zionist entity. The Zionist entity and the other pro-Zionists understood this, and that is why they hurried to obtain a ceasefire, so as to avoid losing the last fig leaf [still hiding their shame]."[10]

Al-Raya columnist Ibrahim Ahmad Al-Ansari wrote on May 19: "The age of victories by the men of the honorable Islamic resistance has begun. Only they have proved their ability to defeat the soldiers of the oppressive enemy and only they will purge the land of ribat [Jerusalem] of the filth of the usurpers and drive them back to their countries of origin. Only they will trace the emblems of heroism with their blood, raise the banners of honor over the Dome of the Rock, and sound the trumpets of victory from the minarets and churches [of Jerusalem] when Al-Asqa returns to the bosom of the nation… [The liberation of] Jerusalem is now closer for the fighters of the resistance, who uphold the values of liberty, resistance, honor, nobility, heroism and might… Not a drop of the waters of Palestine will be abandoned and not a grain of its soil will be relinquished."[11] 

Majed Al-Ansari, a lecturer on political sociology at the University of Qatar and a columnist for Al-Sharq, wrote on May 24: "The victory celebrations of this latest campaign [in Gaza] reflect the ongoing progress towards victory in the struggle… The train of history continues to move towards the disappearance of the occupation and the restoration of the rights to their owners… The plan to silence the resistance and eliminate the [Palestinian] cause will not succeed, and the [Islamic] nation and its peoples will once again be a [single] heart beating in support of Jerusalem and Palestine. I have no doubt that the outcome will favor the men of truth… All we ask of Allah is that we live to see this victory and the liberation of Al-Aqsa and of all the blessed land."[12] 

Criticism Of Inaction By Arab States, Especially Those That Normalized Relations With Israel

Many articles in the Qatari press complained about the inaction of the Arab states in the face of the Palestinians' plight, while directing special criticism at the countries that recently normalized their relations with Israel. Ibrahim Al-Ansari wrote in his May 19 column in Al-Raya: "Since the Camp David Accords, defeatist Arab and Muslims have been trying, by every means and in every way, to distort the consciousness of our Arab and Muslim peoples by trying to make [them] forget Palestine, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa. At the same time [they signed] defeatist surrender agreements with the entity that usurped Palestine, and [made] normalization [agreements] under the slogan of inclining towards 'peace' and striving for 'coexistence,' and under the pretext of being unable to liberate the occupied land and confront the enemy and the forces that back the enemy in the international arena. This came to the point [where they opted for] collective normalization for no reward, took the side of the usurper and relinquished rights… The images seen by the younger Arab generation [in the media] are distorted and doctored, and the facts [presented] are false. Programs in the state media no longer mention occupied Palestine or the facts on the ground, and curricula do not teach the values of struggle, liberty and martyrdom for the sake of Allah and of defending land and honor…" Al-Ansari added that "most of the [Arab] leaders and those who signed normalization agreements [with Israel] betted on a fake peace that gives them an excuse to avoid confrontation."[13]

Cartoons In Qatari Dailies On Israel-Hamas Confrontation Celebrate Hamas Attacks, Mock Israel's Defense Systems

The anti-Israel articles in the Qatari press were accompanied by cartoons that likewise praised the rocket attacks on Israel and the sacrifices made by the resistance, while mocking Israel's Iron Dome rocket defense system and even predicting Israel's demise. The following is a sampling of these cartoons.


Support for rockets attacks on Israel, which are presented as Palestinian victory (Al-Raya, Qatar, May 16, 2021)


"The day of Israel's collapse" (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, May 20, 2021)


"Gaza victorious" (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, May 25, 2021)


"The Palestinian resistance" (Al-Sharq, Qatar, May 21, 2021)


A pebble shatters Israel's "Iron Dome" (Al-Sharq, Qatar, May 17, 2021)


Gazan rockets evade the "Iron Dome" system (Al-Sharq, Qatar, May 20, 2021)


Blood waters "the resistance" (Al-Watan, Qatar, May 12, 2021)


"Gaza" is stuck in the throat of the Israeli serpent that is gripping "Palestine" (Al-Raya, Qatar, May 19, 2021)


"The Palestinian will has triumphed" (Al-Sharq, Qatar, May 22, 2021)

* Z. Harel is a research fellow at MEMRI.

 


[2] Al-Sharq (Qatar), May 20, 27, 2021; Al-Arab (Qatar), May 25, 2021.

[3] Al-sharq.com, May 11, 2021.

[4] Al-Sharq (Qatar), May 20, 2021.

[5] Al-Watan (Qatar), May 21, 2021.

[6] Al-Raya (Qatar), May 19, 2021.

[7] Al-Sharq (Qatar), May 16, 2021.

[8] Al-Watan (Qatar), May 23, 2021.

[10] Al-Sharq (Qatar), May 23, 2021.

[11] Al-Raya (Qatar), May 19, 2021.

[12] Al-Sharq (Qatar), May 24, 2021.

[13] Al-Raya (Qatar), May 19, 2021.

 

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