Nonetheless, many used their keyboards or took the streets to chant slogans such as, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” In fact, among many Muslims on the pro-Palestinian side, the attacks were a cause for celebration.
On Aug. 31, MEMRI founder and director Yigal Carmon, a former security advisor to a series of Israeli prime ministers, warned a war could break out in the Gaza Strip in late summer or early fall. That memo fell on deaf ears and Israel’s vaunted security establishment was distracted by events in the West Bank and misled by Hamas’ carefully orchestrated campaign to lull the IDF into acquiescence.
While MEMRI documented Arab voices criticizing Hamas, the Washington, D.C.-based Al-Monitor noted that Arab support for the Palestinian cause grew in the hours and days after the surprise assault. Very few questioned Hamas violating the Geneva Conventions, international laws that establish legal standards for humanitarian treatment in war.
Agence France-Presse reported that there was a groundswell of solidarity for the Palestinian as cause for the entire Arab world to take up. In fact, from Ramallah to Beirut, Amman to Damascus and in cities such as Baghdad and Cairo, people distributed candy and danced in support of Hamas’ “resistance” to Israel.
“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, the provisional capital of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
“I was pleased by what Hamas did,” said al-Saadi, whose son is in Israeli detention, adding however that he feared the scale of Israeli retaliation.
On Tuesday, scores of people took to the streets of Ramallah to rally in support of Hamas. The same day, more than 4,000 people rallied in the Jordanian capital Amman shouting, “Go Hamas” and “From Gaza came the voice, revolution, revolution until death.”
Hours after the shock attack, Palestinian supporters distributed candies in Beirut and across Lebanon. Residents in the port city of Sidon, situated in southern Lebanon, set off fireworks. Loudspeakers belonging to mosques blared 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.”
On social media, meanwhile, users flooded X with expressions of support for Hamas, including with the hashtag #PalestineIsMyCause that was trending. Other topics, such as Israel-Hamas, were also trending on X all week.
On Instagram, Lebanese comedian Shaden Fakih explained why there was such a wave of support.
“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.”
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 that were relatively sympathetic to Israel and condemned the deaths of Israeli civilians — but the popular mood told a different story.
Expressions of solidarity with Palestinians also filled X in the United Arab Emirates, where prominent analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla took to X and condemned Israel’s retaliation on the people living in Gaza as a “campaign of genocide.”