A senior Palestinian Authority official has called on Arab states to “strike” Gaza, following the example of the Saudi-led bombing raids on Yemen.
Arab states have a duty to “strike those who have violated legitimacy with an iron fist, regardless of the place, time or circumstances, beginning with Palestine,” said Mahmoud al-Habbash, religious affairs advisor to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
“What happened in Gaza was a coup, not a division, and it must be addressed with firmness,” added al-Habbash, who is also the PA’s chief Islamic justice. “There can be no dialogue with coup-makers; they must be hit with an iron fist.”
Al-Habbash made his comments, which were reported by the official Palestinian news agency, in a Friday sermon at the mosque in the PA’s Ramallah headquarters.
Officials of Abbas’ Ramallah-based, Western-supported PA regularly accuse Hamas of carrying out a “coup” when it took over the interior of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
This is a reversal of the well-documented reality that Hamas was acting against a coup attempt by forces loyal to Abbas, after Hamas won legislative elections the previous year.
The coup, which was supported at the highest levels of the US government, succeeded in the West Bank, where Abbas consolidated his Israeli-backed control.
Meanwhile, the democratically elected Hamas-led government was isolated and besieged in Gaza.
Civilians killed in Yemen
Al-Habbash praised the Saudi-led air strikes on the Yemeni capital Sanaa that began Thursday, saying that they would “save” the country and prevent its “disintegration.”
According to Amnesty International, six children were among dozens of civilians killed in bombing raids by aircraft from a Saudi-led coalition of Gulf states and Jordan.
Saudi Arabia says the attacks are intended to drive back the Houthis, predominantly Shia rebels who advanced on Sanaa in recent weeks effectively deposing Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the US- and Saudi-backed president.
Mahmoud Abbas has given his strong backing to the attacks on Yemen.
The Saudi government typically views citizens of Arab countries who are adherents to the Shia branch of Islam as aliens, agents or proxies of Iran.
Saudi media claim that the Houthi advance is part of an Iranian effort to gain a foothold on the Arabian peninsula.
In 2011, Saudi Arabia sent forces to help crush a popular uprising in Bahrain, which the government and its supporters claimed was instigated by Iran.
In his sermon, the PA’s al-Habbash said that Arab states needed to intervene more heavily across the region.
“There are many other cases that should be treated like Yemen,” he said.
Perpetuating Gaza’s suffering
Al-Habbash’s statement “is really frustrating to hear,” Dr. Ramy Abdu, chairperson of the independent group Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights (euromid.org), told The Electronic Intifada from Gaza City.
“I believe that al-Habbash is part of a group that tries to perpetuate Gaza’s suffering and which have no problem letting fellow Palestinians suffer for their own benefit,” Abdu added.