May 10, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8058

On Twitter, Arabs Criticize Hamas For Recent Firing Of Hundreds Of Rockets From Gaza Strip Into Israel – Part II: Arab Journalists, Clerics Accuse Hamas Of Serving As Iranian Tool

May 10, 2019
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 8058

The firing of hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, and the Israeli military response to this, have been widely discussed on Arab social media. Along with Saudi tweets expressing sympathy with Israel and concern for its wellbeing, wishing it victory, and criticizing Hamas and its policy,[1] some journalists from the Arab world, as well as Australian Shi'ite cleric Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, tweeted harsh criticism of Hamas. They accused Hamas of acting as a tool of Iran, of using the Gaza Strip residents as a human shield, and of pocketing funds that Arab countries donate for rebuilding the Gaza Strip.

The following are prominent examples of these tweets:

Lebanese Journalists: Iran Motivated Hamas To Fire On Israel – And The Palestinians Are The Victims

Lebanese journalist Jerry Maher, who is known to be anti-Hizbullah, anti-Iran, and anti-Hamas and who occasionally writes for the Saudi press, compared Hizbullah's firing of rockets into Israel in 2006 with Hamas's doing the same in the past few days. He said that in both cases, rockets were fired into Israel on Iran's orders, and in both cases, the result was disaster for the local populations in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, respectively.

On May 5, 2019, he tweeted:  "In 2006, when international pressure on Iran increased because of its nuclear program, it motivated Hizbullah to attack Israel, and the result for Lebanon and its people was a catastrophe. Today, as sanctions on Iran are increased, it [Iran] is motivating Hamas, and the victim – as always – is the Palestinian people, that is captive to the whims of Iran and the organizations that do its bidding in Gaza."[2]

Also on May 5, Lebanese Shi'ite journalist Nadim Koteich, a columnist for the Saudi Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily who is also known to be anti-Hizbullah and anti-Iran, criticized Hamas and how much it was spending on firing rockets while the Gaza Strip population was in dire economic straits. He tweeted: "How many meals for breaking the [current Ramadan] fast could be purchased with what the hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza cost?"[3]

Journalists In The Gulf And Iraq: Hamas Is Using The Gaza Residents As A Human Shield; Its Rockets Serve No Purpose

Similar statements were tweeted by other journalists in the Gulf and in Iraq. Ahmad Al-Jarallah, editor of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, noted that the rockets fired by Hamas into Israel had served no purpose and that now the Gaza Strip was suffering heavy losses. On May 6, he tweeted:

"What did 100 rockets launched by the Hamas militia from Gaza into Israel achieve? Israel has killed 24 Gaza residents; 50 are wounded; buildings are destroyed; a cruel war against Gaza [is underway]. On the other hand, what did the Gaza rockets do to Israel? Nothing – not even [inducing] fear..."[4]

Journalist Sufian Al-Samarrai, chairman of the board of administrators of the pro-Saudi Iraqi news website, known for his anti-Iran views, blamed the firing of rockets into Israel on Iran, stating that Hamas, which does its bidding, is using the Gaza residents as a human shield. He tweeted on May 5: "Tonight, Iran threatened to bomb Tel Aviv by means of the Safavi [i.e. Iranian] gang Hamas, that uses the Gazans as human shields! This, while Al-Jazeera TV monitors every rocket launching site from Gaza, and at the same time broadcasts the Hamas and [Palestinian Islamic] Jihad channels... Iran and its gangs will yet pay dearly for this irresponsible behavior, [though] they have never taken this into account."[5]

Iraqi political commentator 'Imad Al-Din Al-Jabouri stated that Hamas's shelling of Israel was part of a regular and recurring dramatic scenario that concludes with Hamas leaders pocketing the aid funds sent by Arab countries to rebuild the Gaza Strip: "Hamas shells Israel with rockets that serve no purpose; Israel responds with force; Arab countries express solidarity with the Palestinian people and collect billions [of dollars] for rebuilding what Israel destroys; and billions flow into the bank accounts of Hamas leaders [who reside] in Istanbul hotels... This scenario plays out annually."[6]

Australian Shi'ite Cleric: Supporters Of The Firing Of Rockets Into Israel Apply A Double Standard

Shi'ite Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, who resides in Australia and is known as a moderate who opposes extremist Islam, criticized Muslim religious leaders who support firing rockets into Israel and accused them of applying a double standard. He tweeted: "The extremist Imams celebrating 600 rockets being fired by Hamas on the Jewish State are the same Imams that will lecture you on the 'Ethics of War in Islam' and how Islam prohibits the killing of ants and the destruction of plants."[7]

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8047, Responding To Gaza Events, Saudis Tweet In Support Of Israel, Against Hamas, May 6, 2019.

[2], May 5, 2019.

[3], May 5, 2019.

[4], May 6, 2019.

[5], May 5, 2019.

[6], May 5, 2019.

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