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Hamas's Al Zahar Did Not Back Down - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Hamas leader Mahmoud al Zahar has received his share of [smear] campaigns and accusations of treason just like anybody else who speaks logically and rationally about the mistakes being committed in Gaza. This article does not aim to defend al Zahar inasmuch as it is an attempt to keep shedding light on a matter that some people are trying conceal through deception and news laundering.

A few days ago, al Zahar openly attacked the rockets fired from Gaza to Israel on the Iranian Al Alam television station and described them as “suspicious [action].” Al Zahar said, “some elements are firing rockets (towards Israel) that do not have warheads in order to take advantage of this in the media,” adding that the Gazan government is following up on this matter on the security level in order to reveal the truth behind it. He further stated that Hamas knows the real motives [behind the firing of rockets].

Immediately after that statement, al Zahar was subjected to criticism from Islamist factions and others, as he was advised to take back his comments and to explain his statement in an attempt to reduce the anger [surrounding it]. However, anybody who looks carefully at al Zahar’s explanation would see that he did not back down [from his position] but rather that he further stressed his viewpoint at length as he said that “the enemy wants to remove this moment of calm, and justify its attacks in order to escape the crisis that it is going through with regards to Jerusalem and its insult to the US. The enemy might resort to escalation and we respect and appreciate the resistance project regardless of the parties that adopt it or their visions; Palestine is for everyone and we are with them but beware of the conspiracies of some agents to help the enemy out of its real crisis.” He added that “there must be a reconsideration of every experience; this is not condemnation, as reconsideration means assessment.”

Some might say here that we should ask who taught the fox to be wise. However it seems that we are not facing another round of Hamas deception; rather there are only two possibilities with regards to al Zahar’s position. The first possibility is that al Zahar is actually talking rationally and does not want to alleviate the pressure and embarrassment Netanyahu is experiencing by giving him a pretext to move on quickly thus avoiding the dilemma he is in with Obama and [helping] Netanyahu maintain unity within his government and this is what we spoke about when we asked the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to keep silent and not try to escalate matters.

The second possibility with regards to al Zahar’s comments – and there is evidence to support this – is that Hamas is facing real rebellion in Gaza from some armed factions, as some of them do not want to adhere to the truce that Hamas reached with Israel after the Gaza war whether for different political reasons or because of a real ideological battle with Hamas. The best example of this was the armed conflict that took place in Ibn Taymiyyah mosque with Jund Ansar Allah.

Therefore, what was said about al Zahar retracting his comments about “suspicious [action]” was not accurate, as his explanation did not seem to be a retraction inasmuch as it was confirmation of his position against the firing of anti-tank rockets, which he said was for propaganda [reasons]. Regardless of al Zahar’s motives, what is important is that the Israelis are not given a pretext and above all that the people of Gaza are not subjected to even more suffering.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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