Wed, Jan 19, 2011 | The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Hamas, PA Expressing Support for ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in Tunisia
The revolution in Tunisia produced a wave of reactions: While the Palestinian Authority made do with expressing support for the Tunisian people, Hamas exploited the events to attack the Palestinian Authority and the pro-Western Arab countries. The Hamas media and spokesmen (most of them unofficial) represented the uprising as the victory of a popular intifada over a corrupt, dictatorial regime which had declared war on Islam and was supported by the West.
The response of the Palestinian Authority:
Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor for PLO affairs sent a congratulatory note from the Palestinian people to Tunisia and condolences to the families of the victims and the Tunisian people. He said that the Palestinian Authority would maintain good relations with Tunisia. A demonstration in support of the revolution was held in Ramallah in front of the Tunisian embassy (Wafa News Agency, January 15, 2011).
The response of Hamas and other terrorist organizations:
Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip expressed support for the Tunisian revolution, and exploited it to verbally attack the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United States.
— Fathi Hamad, interior minister of the de facto Hamas administration, said that Hamas supported the Tunisian people who were choosing their leaders, and considered the revolution in Tunisia as an expression as the will of an oppressed people.
— Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman, said it was the right of the Tunisian people to choose their leaders democratically (Website of the Hamas administration interior ministry and Hamas’ Palestine-info website, January 15, 2011).
— Fathi Al-Qara’wi, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, wrote an article in which he represented the Tunisian revolution as “an enormous achievement,” a victory for “virtue and religion [i.e., Islam]” over those who were fighting them. He claimed that the Tunisian “dictator” criminally allowed only those [Islamic] religious precepts which he considered fitting [to be implemented]. For example, he said that the hijab [women’s head covering] was forbidden, as was polygamy. He said [hinting at the Palestinian Authority and various western states] that in his opinion the revolution proved that “the people” could bring about change, and that all the rulers of the Arab “dictatorships” who thought the United States, Israel and the West would protect them should know how flimsy their positions were. He added that “the era of the people has begun” and that when “the violence of their people” broke out the support of the West would not avail them (Hamas’ Palestine-info website, January 16, 2011).
— The Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized a march in Gaza City in support of the Tunisian revolution. The PIJ congratulated the Tunisian people for having “taken its freedom by force.” The PIJ also said it hoped that “the blood of the free people” from Tunisia would support the Palestinians and the rest of the people around the world in their struggle against Israel and the United States (Hamas’ Paltoday website, January 15, 2011).