It is no secret that the Egyptian government has been taking some pleasure in watching events unfold in the Gaza Strip.
After the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, and the subsequent insurgency campaign by his Islamist supporters, the Brotherhood was declared public enemy number one and blacklisted as a terrorist group amid a bloody crackdown. It’s “Palestinian branch”, Hamas, was accused of cooperating with insurgents and terrorist groups in the Sinai Peninsula, and first the interim military administration, and then the government of President Sisi, tightened the screws on Hamas specifically. Cairo imposed a blockade even more rigorous than that imposed by Israel, and destroyed many of the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, which were a vital source of weapons and finance for Hamas.
In doing so, the Egyptian military was reflecting the views of many Egyptians who, while still hostile towards Israel, saw in the rise of Islamism a mortal enemy far more dangerous than the dreaded “Zionists”.
But while Sisi’s administration has remained notably silent during Operation Protective Edge, limiting itself to bland statements calling on “both sides” to show “restraint”, that enmity has bubbled to the surface of Egyptian TV – which, it should be noted, is state-controlled.
And in a collage of segments from Egyptian television translated by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), a variety of animated anchors share some choice words about Hamas with their viewers.
Perhaps the most prominent theme is summed up by talk show host Mazhar Shahin, who begins his anti-Hamas tirade by drawing a line between supporting “the Palestinians” and supporting Hamas.
“Just like we died in the past in defense of the Palestinian cause, we are ready to die today in defense of the Palestinian cause – but we are not ready to die in defense of Hamas,” he declared, going on to say that the Egyptian people “are not prepared to sacrifice even a single hair from the eyebrow” for the Islamist group.
Other hosts echoed those sentiments, and goaded Hamas and other Palestinian Islamist leaders who encourage young Arabs to die for the sake of “jihad”, but who themselves live in luxury away from the front lines.
Mohamed Moustafa Sherdi took the opportunity to attack Hamas for its smuggling tunnel network, which he said was built to “smuggle all of Egypt’s wealth” into Gaza.
Talk show host Ahmad Mousa took an even more openly mocking tone, pointing out that despite its bravado Hamas had not managed to inflict major losses on Israel, and making fun of the lifestyle and expanding waistline of Hamas “prime minister” Ismail Haniye.
“Why do you, the Al Qassam Brigades [Hamas’s military wing – ed.], hide among civilians?” Mousa asked.
“Why do you use people’s homes? You should keep your hideouts away from people’s homes. you know full well that when you launch a missile from a home, a [Israeli] missile will land on that home within one minute.