Arab support for Palestinians swelled by euphoria over Hamas blow to Israel

Across the Middle East, people distribute treats, dance in streets and celebrate in displays of mass support for ‘resistance’

A member of the Al-Quds Brigades distributes candies in celebration of the deadly Hamas terror assault on Israel, at Lebanon's Beddawi refugee camp in Tripoli, Lebanon on October 7, 2023. (Fathi Al-Masri/AFP)
A member of the Al-Quds Brigades distributes candies in celebration of the deadly Hamas terror assault on Israel, at Lebanon's Beddawi refugee camp in Tripoli, Lebanon on October 7, 2023. (Fathi Al-Masri/AFP)

In mosques, soccer stadiums and towns across the Arab world, pro-Palestinian sentiment has surged after a shocking, deadly Hamas terror attack on Israel that has killed at least a thousand people, sparking a groundswell of solidarity for the Palestinians.

From Ramallah to Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo, people have distributed candies, danced and chanted prayers in support of the “resistance” to Israel’s long-standing control of Palestinian land.

“My entire life, I have seen Israel kill us, confiscate our lands and arrest our children,” said Farah al-Saadi, a 52-year-old coffee vendor from Ramallah in the Israeli-held West Bank.

“I was pleased by what Hamas did,” said the man, whose son is in Israeli detention, adding, however, that he feared the scale of “Israeli crimes in Gaza” in retaliation.

The war began after Hamas terrorists stormed into Israel on Saturday and slaughtered hundreds of civilians in a series of border towns. Some 1,500 gunmen invaded after breaching the Gaza Strip border fence and then rampaged murderously for hours.

The death toll in Israel from the attack and subsequent battles rose above 1,000 by Tuesday, according to reports. Over 500 people remained hospitalized, many with life-threatening injuries, and over 2,900 have been injured since Saturday. The terrorists also kidnapped about 150 men, women and children and dragged them into Gaza. Hamas also launched over 5,000 rockets at Israel and has continued to bombard southern and central areas causing deaths, injuries, and damage.

IDF soldiers remove the body of an Israeli killed during an October 7, 2023, attack by Hamas terrorists, in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, in southern Israel bordering the Gaza Strip, on October 10, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The terrorists’ attack stunned Israel with a death toll unseen since the 1973 Yom Kippur War with Egypt and Syria — and those deaths happened over a longer period of time. It brought horrific scenes of Hamas terrorists gunning down civilians in their cars on the road, in streets of towns, and at a music festival attended by thousands in the desert near Gaza, while dragging men, women and children into captivity.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has compared the atrocities against Israeli civilians on Saturday to the actions of Islamic State. Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported Tuesday that in some attack locations, the terrorists beheaded their victims.

Israelis have found renewed dedication to their national cause, while Palestinians and their Arab supporters have also rallied in a rare mass show of popular unity in the region.

“I do not think there is a single Palestinian who does not support what happened,” said Issam Abu Bakr, a Palestinian official in the West Bank.

The Hamas attack was a “natural reaction to the crimes committed by Israel,” which has “turned its back on the political negotiation process,” he added.

Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus celebrate on October 7, 2023, after terrorists from the Gaza Strip infiltrated Israel, a major escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

‘Die silently’

Israeli retaliatory strikes on Gaza Strip targets have killed 765 people and also wounded hundreds, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the blockaded enclave. Israel says it is targeting terrorist infrastructure and all areas where Hamas operates or hides out.

Hours after the shock Hamas invasion began on Saturday, Palestinian supporters distributed sweets in south Lebanon and the capital Beirut.

Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war and Israeli troops established a security zone in the country’s south for 22 years.

Residents of the southern port city of Sidon set off firecrackers and gathered in public squares as mosques blasted chants praising “Palestinian resistance fighters who are writing the most wonderful, heroic epic.”

A rally was held at the American University of Beirut, where 18-year-old Palestinian student Reem Sobh said: “We are unable to carry weapons but at least, we are able to support them.”

An IDF soldier prepares to remove the bodies of Israelis killed during an October 7, 2023, attack by Palestinian terrorists, in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, in southern Israel bordering the Gaza Strip, on October 10, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP)

On Instagram, Lebanese comedian Shaden Fakih explained the wave of support widely condemned in the West.

“What do you expect from Palestinians? To get killed every day and not do anything about it… to die silently?” she said in a video.

“They will carry arms and fight back. This is their right,” she added, noting that she “can be against Hamas and still support any armed resistance against the oppressor, against [Israeli] apartheid.”

In the Tunisian capital, schools raised Palestinian flags and a coalition of organizations and political parties have called for massive solidarity rallies.

The presidency declared its “full and unconditional support of the Palestinian people” and of their right to resist occupation.

‘Nothing to lose’

In Damascus, the Palestinian flag lit up the city’s opera house. (In some Western countries public buildings were lit up in blue and white to show support for Israel, notably the White House in Washington as well as 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament in London.)

Iraqis burn Israeli flags during a rally held in central Baghdad on October 7, 2023, in support of the Palestinians, after Hamas terrorists launched a deadly air, land and sea assault into Israel from the Gaza Strip. (Murtadha Ridha/AFP)

Syrian university employee Marah Suleiman, 42, said the Hamas attack “stirred up a feeling within us that had not been moved for many years, and revived the spirit of resistance.”

Palestinians “have nothing to lose after all the killing, destruction and displacement they have been subjected to,” she said.

In Egypt, which bans unauthorized protests, soccer fans turned matches into displays of solidarity, with pro-Palestinian chants.

In the war-scarred Iraqi capital Baghdad, Iran-backed paramilitaries trampled and torched Israeli flags during rallies in Tahrir Square.

Even Arab Gulf states joined the wave of solidarity despite the US-brokered Abraham Accords, which saw Israel normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2020.

The two countries released statements relatively sympathetic to Israel, but the popular mood told a different story.

Expressions of solidarity with Palestinians filled social media in the UAE, and prominent Emirati analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla condemned Israel’s attacks on Gaza as a “campaign of genocide” on X, formerly Twitter.

In Bahrain, protesters have covered their faces, some with Palestinian keffiyehs, during near-daily, unauthorized rallies.

“We will always support our brothers in Palestine,” said a 29-year-old demonstrator, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the authorities.

“If we were able to reach them, we would have fought alongside them,” he added.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have pledged to ensure Hamas can never again muster the capacity to harm Israel, stating that the terror group’s demise is critical to Israel’s future.

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