Palestinians from the terrorist groups Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have taken sides in the ongoing violence between Saudi Arabi and the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, condemning Saudi-led airstrikes against the latter.
Iran supports and funds both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
In recent airstrikes, at least 60 people were killed and 200 injured in the city of Sa’ada, which is a Houthi stronghold. In addition, at least 40 Houthis were killed over the weekend, Al Arabiya reported.
The conflict in Yemen flared up recently after Houthi rebels attacked the United Arab Emirates with drones earlier this month, killing three people and injuring at least six. The Houthis said the attacks were in retaliation for the UAE’s “recent escalation in Yemen.”
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar condemned Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Friday as “Arab Zionists” and accused them of committing “crimes” against the people of Yemen.
“I advise them to return to their religion,” Mahmoud Zahar said in an interview with the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen TV on Friday. “They are the ultimate losers.”
Zahar reportedly supports Houthi drone attacks against the United Arab Emirates.
Complicating issues in the region, since the Abraham Accords were signed in September 2020, the UAE is now an ally of Israel, which Hamas also considers an enemy.
Palestinian support for the Houthis spread to social media with the hashtag, #Palestinians Support the Houthis trending on Sunday. Dubai’s deputy police chief, Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, reportedly said that Zahar should be placed on the UAE’s most wanted list.
On Saturday, anti-Saudi sentiment escalated in the Gaza Strip after Islamic Jihad organized a demonstration of protesters chanting “Death to the House of Saud,” according to ABC news.
This turned out to be too much even for Hamas, which cannot afford to alienate Arab countries and risk losing support. On Sunday, the terrorist organization sought to distance itself from the demonstration.
“The shouts against Arab and Gulf states from our Palestinian arena don’t represent our position and policy,” Hamas said.
Palestinian terror groups have been known to oppose the Gulf states.
During the first Gulf war, Yasser Arafat, the late chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), supported Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The Kuwaiti government, in turn, expelled all Palestinians living in the country.
“From March to September 1991, about 200,000 Palestinians were expelled from the emirate… while another 200,000 who fled during the Iraqi occupation were denied return,” according to one account. “By September 1991, Kuwait’s Palestinian community had dwindled to some 20,000.”
Similarly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the Abraham Accords a betrayal of the Palestinians, because they do not tie normalization to the creation of a Palestinian state.
“We consider this a stab in the back and we absolutely reject it,” Abbas said at the time. “Some countries have begun moving, both openly and in secret…this is rejected, and we the Palestinians will continue to absolutely reject this, no matter which country does this. You must respect the decisions on which you have signed off.”