Hushed opposition: behind Saudi Arabia's quiet criticism of Hamas

While polls show 96% of Saudis believe Arab nations should sever ties with Israel amid war, kingdom's media does not hold punches against terror group
A survey by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy involving a thousand Saudis revealed that 96% believe Arab nations should sever ties with Israel.
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Meanwhile, media coverage in the kingdom, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, indicates Saudi Arabia's dissatisfaction with Hamas, though not explicitly expressed in public statements.
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מוחמד בן סלמאן יחיא סינואר
מוחמד בן סלמאן יחיא סינואר
Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
(Photo: EPA, Reuters)
London-based newspaper Al-Arab reported that "Saudi Arabia's silence regarding explicit criticism of Hamas and its responsibility for the escalation aligns with the trend of Arab and Islamic sympathy for Gaza - but in reality, it conceals the kingdom's true stance toward Hamas, which has directly harmed it.
“In fact, Hamas has undermined Saudi Arabia's significant efforts for peace and stability in the region and has created a new environment for religious extremism, the roots of which Saudi Arabia has attempted to eradicate."
Experts told the newspaper that Saudi Arabia will play a key role post-war in seeking a sustainable solution to the Palestinian issue, "especially as the kingdom leads the Arab Initiative, offering a realistic proposal that includes recognizing Israel in exchange for enabling Palestinians to establish their independent state within the 1967 borders."
Saudi Arabia's dissatisfaction with Hamas is evident in how Saudi media, particularly the Al Arabiya network, has covered the war.
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חאלד משעל
חאלד משעל
Former Hamas leader Khaled Mashal
(Photo: AP Photo/Osama Faisal, File)
Journalist Haitham Hasnin noted that Saudi coverage differed from that of Qatari media. When former Hamas leader Khaled Mashal was interviewed on Al-Arabiya, he faced a relatively belligerent line of questioning.
Mashal was asked, "Do you apologize for what happened to Israeli civilians on October 7?" When the former head of Hamas's political bureau hesitated to respond, the host interjected, "You say this is legitimate resistance in your eyes, but what people in the West saw on their TV screens were Hamas' violations against civilians."
Veteran journalist Abdulrahman al-Rashed warned Palestinians, "They (the armed groups) are stealing your children for the tenth time." He expressed concern that "many Arab youths are filled with blind admiration, which could replicate what happened in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, where many jihadists emerged due to media-fueled recruitment."
Contrary to other Arab countries, Saudi Arabia did not declare days of mourning for the casualties in Gaza, did not cancel planned events, continued to organize festivals and concerts, and even celebrated winning the bid to host Expo 2030.
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