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Hamas has appalled its friends as well as its enemies

A Palestinian protester last week. Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty

Hamas’s 7 October attacks were meant to “set off a chain reaction”, says Nelly Lahoud in Foreign Affairs, “drawing the broader Middle East into a conflict for Palestinian freedom”. Mohammed Deif, leader of the group’s militant wing, called on Palestinians to “ignite the earth with flames beneath the feet of the oppressive occupiers”, and appealed to Islamic “resistance” groups in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen to “unite with their brethren in Palestine”. But so far, that hasn’t happened. Arab governments have not offered support for Hamas. Iran has done nothing. Even Hezbollah has been “more restrained than Hamas wanted”.

Instead, the “heart-wrenching images” from the attack were so distressing that some jihadi groups actually distanced themselves from the horror. Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent issued a statement claiming it had seen mujahideen defending Israeli women and children, assuring them that “we would treat you humanely for we are Muslims”. One Hamas leader, Saleh al-Arouri, blamed the violence against civilians on ordinary Gazans who, he told Al Jazeera, must have rushed through the border behind his “disciplined” soldiers. Hamas appears surprised, and worried, at its own success. “With two abductees, they could have negotiated with Israel for permission to build a seaport and freedom for hundreds of prisoners held in Israeli jails,” one anonymous diplomat told the US-based website Al-Monitor. With more than 200, “they will face the entire Israeli army inside Gaza”.

🇸🇦🇪🇬🇧🇭 Even before the recent attacks, says Jake Wallis Simons in The Spectator, the Arab world had gone right off Hamas. An August poll found that just 10% of Saudis expressed a positive view of the terror group, while 48% said their opinion was “very negative”. In Bahrain, Egypt and even Qatar, support for Hamas dropped 10 points leading up to 2020, while in Gaza itself, in July, 50% were brave enough to tell pollsters: “Hamas should stop calling for Israel’s destruction, and instead accept a permanent two-state solution.”