by Khaled Abu Toameh
[Editor's note: This article was written before the abortive "cease-fire" of July 15.]
Over the past week there are voices coming out of Egypt and some Arab countries -- voices that publicly support the Israeli military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
They see the atrocities and massacres committed by Islamists on a daily basis in Iraq and Syria and are beginning to ask themselves if these serve the interests of the Arabs and Muslims.
"Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas!" — Azza Sami of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram.
Isolated and under attack, Hamas now realizes that it has lost the sympathy of many Egyptians and Arabs.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi has thus far turned down appeals from Palestinians and other Arabs to work toward achieving a new ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Sisi and urged him to intervene to achieve an "immediate ceasefire" between Israel and Hamas. Abbas later admitted that his appeal to Sisi and (other Arab leaders) had fallen on deaf ears.
Sisi's decision not to intervene in the current crisis did not come as a surprise. In fact, Sisi and many Egyptians seem to be delighted that Hamas is being badly hurt.
An uncomfortable moment during an April 2014 meeting between PA President Abbas and Egyptian President Sisi. (Image source: Video from President Abbas' Office)
Some Egyptians are even openly expressing hope that Israel will completely destroy Hamas, which they regard as the "armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization."
Sisi's Egypt has not forgiven Hamas for its alliance with Muslim Brotherhood and its involvement in terrorist attacks against Egyptian civilians and soldiers over the past year.
The Egyptians today understand that Hamas and other radical Islamist groups pose a serious threat to their national security. That is why the Egyptian authorities have, over the past year, been taking tough security measures not only against Hamas, but also the entire population of the Gaza Strip.
These measures include the destruction of dozens of smuggling tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization.
True, there are still many Egyptians and Arabs who sympathize with Hamas, mainly because it is being targeted by Israel. But over the past week, there are also different voices coming out of Egypt and some other Arab countries -- voices that publicly support the Israeli military operation against the Islamist movement in the Gaza Strip.
This is perhaps because a growing number of Arabs and Muslims are fed up with the Islamist terrorists who are imposing a reign of terror and intimidation in the Arab world, particularly in Iraq and Syria. They see the atrocities and massacres committed by Islamists on a daily basis in Iraq and Syria and are beginning to ask themselves if these serve the interests of the Arabs and Muslims.
Sisi and other Arab leaders are now sitting on the fence and hoping that this time Israel will complete the job and get rid of Hamas once and for all. Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah are certainly not going to shed a tear if Hamas is crushed and removed from power in the Gaza Strip.
The reaction of some Egyptians to the Israeli military operation has shocked Hamas and other Palestinians. As one Hamas spokesman noted: "It's disgraceful to see that some Egyptians are publicly supporting the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip while Westerners are expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and condemning Israel."
Addressing the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Egyptian actor Amr Mustafa said that they should not expect any help from the Egyptians. "You must get rid of Hamas and we will help you," he said. He also called on Hamas to stop meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries. "Pull your men out of Egypt, Syria and Libya," Mustafa demanded. "In Egypt, we are today fighting poverty that was caused by wars. We have enough of our own problems. Don't expect the Egyptians to give more than what they have already given. We've had enough of what you did to our country."
In response to Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi's decision to dispatch 500 tons of food and medical aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian newspaper El-Bashayer remarked: "The standard of living for a Gazan citizen is much higher than that of an Egyptian citizen. The poor in Egypt are more in need than the poor in the Gaza Strip. Let Qatar spend as much as it wants on the Gaza Strip. We should not send anything that Egyptians are in need of."
Famous Egyptian TV presenter and journalist Amr Adeeb has been told by many Egyptians to "shut up" after his criticism of Sisi's "silence" toward the war in the Gaza Strip.
One Egyptian reminded Adeeb that "Hamas is responsible for the killing of Egyptian soldiers."
Egyptian ex-general Hamdi Bakhit was quoted as expressing hope that Israel would re-occupy the Gaza Strip. "This would be better than the Hamas rule," he said.
Egyptian TV presenter Amany al-Khayat launched a scathing attack on Hamas.
She pointed out that Hamas agreed to the reconciliation pact with Fatah only in order to get salaries for its employees in the Gaza Strip.
Al-Khayat said that Hamas was seeking to depict itself as a victim of an Israeli attack only in order to get the Egyptian authorities to reopen the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip. "They just want us to open the Rafah border crossing," she said on her show. "Hamas is prepared to make all the residents of the Gaza Strip pay a heavy price in order to rid itself of its crisis. We must not forget that Hamas is the armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist movement."
Her colleague, Azza Sami of the newspaper Al-Ahram, went as far as thanking Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for ordering the attack on Hamas. "Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas," she wrote.
What is also remarkable is Egyptian criticism of Hamas for launching rockets at the nuclear facility in Dimona in southern Israel. Ahmed Qandeel, head of the Energy Studies Program at the Al-Ahram Strategic Studies think-tank, denounced the targeting of Dimona as "idiotic." He warned that this would have a negative impact on the entire region and endanger the lives of many Egyptians and Arabs. "Egypt must take precautionary measures," he advised.
In response, an Egyptian wrote: "May God make the State of Israel victorious in its war against the terrorist movement Hamas during this holy month of Ramadan."
Echoing the widespread sentiment among Egyptians, journalist Mustafa Shardi said: "No Arab country has done for the Palestinians as Egypt did. Why doesn't Hamas go to (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan? Where is Erdogan when you need him? Why is he silent? If he opens his mouth they (Israel and the US) will hit him with a shoe. The Egyptian people are asking: Where are our people who were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip? Hamas should apologize for the 1000 tunnels that were used to smuggle the resources of Egypt. They all have their own planes and accounts in Swiss banks."
Isolated and under attack, Hamas now realizes that it has lost the sympathy of many Egyptians and Arabs. Some Hamas leaders are now talking about the "betrayal" and "collusion" of their Arab brethren, especially Egypt.
When the Egyptian authorities reluctantly and briefly re-opened the Rafah border crossing a few days ago, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum rushed to declare: "The Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing only to receive bodies. Egypt is imposing a blockade on the Gaza Strip and has destroyed the tunnels."
Former Palestinian Authority security commander Mohamed Dahlan predicted that the Egyptians will not do anything to save Hamas. "Egypt won't intervene to stop the war on the Gaza Strip because Hamas was conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood against Egypt," he said. "Hamas was working with Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian army."
Hamas is paying a heavy price for meddling in the internal affairs of Egypt and some other Arab countries. But the Palestinians living under Hamas in the Gaza Strip are paying a heavier price, largely due to their failure to rise up against the Islamist movement and demand the right to live better lives.
Khaled Abu Toameh
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.