Palestine rallies show empathy for Gaza, not support for Hamas

The militant group’s leaders visit Iran then call for young Arabs everywhere to mobilise, yet the hundreds of thousands who line the streets in solidarity with the people of Gaza do not support violence.

Palestine rallies show empathy for Gaza, not support for Hamas

Hamas named its 7 October attacks on Israel after the religious buildings in the old city of Jerusalem, including a famous mosque, which have become symbolic of the occupation of Palestinian lands.

Two months after the Al Aqsa Flood operation came another initiative aimed at Lebanon, called the Vanguard of the Al-Aqsa Flood.

It called for “the Palestinian people, including all youths and men, to join the ranks of the resistance fighters, contributing to the shaping of the future of the Palestinian cause and the liberation of Jerusalem and the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque”.

This ambition proved short-lived. Hamas retracted it, saying its words were meant not as a call for mobilisation, but rather for the good of young people, to deter them from potentially damaging or dangerous behaviour, or harmful activity.

Its retraction sought to portray those words as a general call for support for the Palestinians, encouraging people to support and defend the cause.

It came with an emphasis on respect for Lebanon's sovereignty, the country’s legal system and its internal stability and security. It highlighted Hamas’s policy of non-interference there.

Nonetheless, the fact it was issued at all showed how Hamas seems to adopt different standards when it comes to Lebanon under Hezbollah, compared with other Arab regions.

Chaos and irony

Khaled Mashal, leading Hamas from abroad, said "the entire nation must engage in the Al-Aqsa Flood battle", and suggested that "our nation's blood should blend with that of the Palestinians until honour is achieved."

This raises questions: How can this be a call for peaceful solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza? Does it signal a push towards more chaos and violence?

In December, Hamas called for the Palestinian people to join the ranks of the resistance fighters, then retracted it.

Hamas is dedicated to upholding the stability of regimes aligned with Tehran. It openly urges Arab peoples to surpass any constraints, laws, or agreements in their pursuit of its goals.

Consider the timing of Mashal's remarks. They came after a Hamas delegation visited Tehran.

Look at the regular expressions of gratitude from the group's leaders to the country. They reveal the deep irony running through Hamas's actions.

And there is more of it elsewhere. Deep irony is also on display in the messages broadcast by Hamas's military wing.

Bringing in others

Hamas has urged Muslims in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria to converge on Palestine, undeterred by borders, governments, or legal constraints, in their effort to support jihad and the liberation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

For even more, look at Hamas's stance towards Syria. Here, it aligns with the Iran-led Axis of Resistance, without calling for any action at all.

It even issued only a muted response to Israel's targeted killing of Saleh Al-Arouri, a Hamas leader, in Beirut.

But the pinnacle of the irony is reached by Hamas's calls for upheaval and "mixing of blood," at the same time as it proposes only four essential conditions for peace talks with Israel.

These are an immediate cessation of aggression, a total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the right of return for refugees to the Strip's northern region, and the provision of vital aid and resources to the people there.

Essentially, these demands from Hamas amount to a return to the status quo before 7 October and its own attacks on Israel, with all of their consequences for Gaza.

Political exploitation

Today, supporting Palestine and denouncing the genocide committed against the people of Gaza has become an act of moral and humanitarian solidarity that defies national and religious lines.

Communities around the world have lined up with Arab and Islamic ones, to show profound empathy towards the Palestinians' plight.

The global protests in support of the Palestinian cause are driven by individual convictions, independently of any encouragement from Hamas or any other groups.

Those who have thrust Palestinians into peril are acutely aware of the lack of restraint Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has shown since, and the way he has used the war in the face of his own domestic political turmoil.

Global protests in support of the Palestinian cause are driven by individual convictions, independently of any encouragement from Hamas.

It has allowed him to delay critical domestic problems and reposition himself at home.

And then Hamas calls for more conflict in Palestinian areas it does not control while its highest ambition for Gaza is a return to the conditions in place on 6 October.

The group arrives at a contradictory position, calling for peace alongside actions that could widen violence.

Solidarity for Palestinians

Demonstrators around the world have taken to the streets in support of Palestinians who are suffering in Gaza. They are not endorsing the violence unleashed by Hamas's leader, Yahya Sinwar.

Any effort to misrepresent people's empathy for Palestine as support for Hamas is an insult to the genuine pain and struggle of the Palestinian population.

It represents an exploitation of their sacrifices for political gain. That amounts to a partisan agenda being prioritised over sincere compassion for the plight of a people.

Hamas should allow Arab peoples to express themselves freely without manipulating their voices or distorting their movement for their own political gain.

Maybe Tehran and its proxies have different motivations by ensuring that Hamas exploits solidarity protests in Gaza.

Tehran played a role in igniting unrest in Arab cities in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

It cannot be relied upon to champion freedom for any Arab nation, in Palestine or anywhere else.

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