Whoever attacks Israel ‘is a hero’ in Palestinian eyes: Many Gazans fete Iran assault

Father from Gaza City says Iranian strikes ‘bring joy into our hearts’ after ‘no one dared to do anything’ amid Israel-Hamas war; others slam Tehran’s ‘face-saving piece of theater’

FILE - In this file photo from November 2012, Palestinian school girls pass a billboard covered by Palestinian and Iranian flags with Arabic that reads, "thanks and gratitude to Iran," in Gaza City. (AP Photo/Adel Hana, File)
FILE - In this file photo from November 2012, Palestinian school girls pass a billboard covered by Palestinian and Iranian flags with Arabic that reads, "thanks and gratitude to Iran," in Gaza City. (AP Photo/Adel Hana, File)

Iran’s attack on Israel drew applause from many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday as payback for the Israeli offensive on their enclave, although some said they suspected Tehran had staged the assault more for show than to inflict real damage.

“For the first time, we saw some rockets that didn’t land in our areas. These rockets were going into the occupied Palestine,” said Abu Abdallah, referring to Israel.

“We are hopeful that if Iran or any other country enters the war, a solution for Gaza might be nearer than ever. The Americans may have to resolve Gaza to end the roots of the problem,” said Abu Abdallah, 32, using a nickname rather than his full name.

Many in Gaza have felt abandoned by Middle East neighbors amid the ongoing war in the Strip, which was triggered by the October 7 terror onslaught in Israel by thee’s Hamas rulers. However, support has come from Iran and its regional proxies, particularly the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon, which began launching near daily attacks on northern Israel in solidarity with Gaza a day after the Hamas-led atrocities. The Houthi rebels in Yemen and Shiite paramilitaries in Iraq have also carried out attacks against Israel.

Footage circulated from Gaza showed many residents, including inside displacement tents, whistling and others chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is the Greatest) in joy as the skies were lit up by Iranian rockets and Israeli interceptions.

“Whoever decides to attack Israel, dares to attack Israel at a time when the whole world acts in its service, is a hero in the eyes of Palestinians regardless of whether we share their [Iran’s] ideology or not,” said Majed Abu Hamza, 52, a father of seven, from Gaza City.

The Dome of the Rock atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, with the lights of missile interceptions visible in the night sky, early on April 14, 2024, after Iran fired ballistic missiles at Israel. (Social media/X; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

“We have been slaughtered for over six months and no one dared to do anything. Now Iran, after its consulate was hit, is hitting back at Israel and this brings joy into our hearts,” Abu Hamza added.

Iran launched the attack in retaliation for a suspected Israeli strike on a consular-linked building in Syria on April 1 that killed several Islamic Revolutionary Guard members, including two generals.

‘Natural right’

Hamas defended Iran’s attack, saying in a statement the assault was “a natural right and a deserved response” to the strike on the Iranian consulate.

The Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), a terror group that fights Israel alongside Hamas in Gaza, said the Iranian engagement could boost the Palestinian cause, saying that for Israel it was “the final nail in its coffin.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another terror group that, like Hamas, receives financial and military support from Iran, defended the Iranian attack and condemned countries it said acted as a “protective shield” for Israel.

Not everyone was supportive. Some Palestinians saw the attack as an attempt by Iran merely to preserve its dignity.

“Curtains down on the face-saving piece of theater… The Palestinian people are the only ones who pay the price with their flesh and blood,” Munir al-Gaghoub, a resident of the West Bank, wrote on his Facebook page.

Some others on social media said they believed the assault was coordinated with the US in order to cause no harm, pointing to the hours it took for Iranian drones to get close to Israel and saying this gave Israel plenty of time to shoot them down.

Troops operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released by the military on April 14, 2024 (Israel Defense Forces)

Meanwhile, fighting continued in Gaza, where the Israel Defense Forces denied reports that Palestinians were being allowed to return to the northern Strip.

“Further to the reports that IDF forces are allowing the return of residents to the north of the Gaza Strip, these are false reports,” the IDF said in a statement.

“The IDF will not allow the return of residents either through the Salah A-Din axis or through the Rashid axis [the coast]. The northern area of ​​the Gaza Strip is still a combat zone and it will not be possible to return to it,” the military added.

Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman, warned Gazans to avoid using the road to the north.

“For your safety, do not approach the forces operating there. The northern Gaza Strip area is still a war zone and we will not allow a return to it,” Adraee wrote in a post on X.

The military also announced Sunday that combat engineers built bridges for tanks to cross the Wadi Gaza river, as the IDF continues a pinpoint operation against Hamas in the central Gaza Strip.

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