How do Political Islam Groups See the War in Gaza?

Despite the shared roots of political Islam groups, whether in terms of their origin or ideology, their positions on the attacks carried out by Palestinian factions in the Gaza envelope have varied between support and opposition. Therefore, this paper aims to assess the positions of these groups regarding the war in Gaza.

  • Release Date – Dec 31, 2023

The ongoing war in the Gaza Strip became a turning point in the course of political Islam groups, whether on the work practiced by such groups as political movements or on their rhetoric. The war in Gaza will have long-term repercussions on these groups because Hamas, the main perpetrator of the attacks against the Gaza envelope on October 7 is considered an intellectual and organizational extension of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) organization.

Both the war and its results will affect the Muslim Brotherhood’s behavior, a change that began to appear in the MB branches in Arab countries. More interactions are expected to come in the long term because Hamas’ attacks have weakened the current thinking that regards the Brotherhood as a group that practices pragmatic policies while avoiding large military confrontations.

However, this change by the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, and the subsequent practices of the Israeli army that daily commits war crimes against the people of Gaza, are issues that will be dealt with in a highly professional manner in the discussion of terrorist and takfiri groups, such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. This is especially true since discussions and announcements in Hamas’ media outlets have generated great popularity and intense attention among a large portions of the Arab and Western public.

In addition, the war prompted Americans from the democratic left to republish a message through which Osama bin Laden spoke to Americans, explaining the reasons that provoked Al-Qaeda to attack American interests. These indicators and others lead to the expectation that the region in the post-war stage is heading for a wide wave of extremism.

Discourse Trends and Influences

Despite the joint roots of political Islam groups, whether in terms of their origin or trend, the positions of these groups on the attacks carried out by the Palestinian factions in the Gaza envelope have varied. These positions represent a wide spectrum ranging from the far right to the far left. Some are supporting and others are opposing, some are engaged while others are just supportive. These positions and the trends of political Islam groups are as follows:

Opposing Trends

Many political Islam groups adopted a discourse against Hamas, opposing the Toofan Al-Aqsa operation. With its southern and northern wings, the Islamic Movement in Israel adopted this opposing discourse. Although this discourse is motivated by avoiding the Israeli reaction to Arabs in Israel, it is still the result of previous transformations that the Islamic Movement in Israel has undergone.

For example, the Southern wing of the Islamic Movement was involved in the Israeli political process and participated in the Knesset elections. The United Arab List, headed by Mansour Abbas, won five out of 120 seats in the last elections held in 2021. Therefore, the Southern wing’s position on the war was consistent with the official Israeli narrative and the wing’s leader held Hamas responsible for what he called the “horrific massacre” in the Gaza envelope. When Iman Khatib, a member of the Knesset for the Islamic Movement, denied the stories of Hamas targeting Israeli children and women in the Gaza envelope, the Movement demanded that she resign. After being suspended from the Knesset for a month, Khatib apologized.

The Islamic Movement’s Northern wing, led by Raed Salah and banned by Israeli law, has denied since the early days of the war any connection to Hamas. The Movement’s vice president, Kamal al-Khatib, called Hamas a “terrorist group.” However, the Northern wing’s rhetoric was more balanced than the Southern wing, demanding an end to the war and calling for peace.

Neutral Trends

 Some political Islam groups were satisfied with taking an opposing position to the war in the Gaza Strip, not showing support for Hamas or other Palestinian factions. The position of Salafism in Egypt represented that trend, which is ostensibly consistent with the official Egyptian position of pressing for a ceasefire and classifying the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist movement. Hamas was accused of engaging in acts of violence that Egypt witnessed after 2011. Similarly, most of the of traditional Salafism positions on the war are as follows:

In their religious position, traditional Salafi groups considered the war part of a legitimate jihad, as evidenced in an October 8 Salafist Call in Egypt. Similarly, Al-Nour Party released a statement supporting the Palestinian position against the “Zionist occupation forces.” Additionally, the Salafist movement in the Yemeni province of Ibb considers the Toofan Al-Aqsa operation as “a defense jihad, a religious duty, and a legitimate right.”


Many sheikhs and prominent figures of Salafism in the Arab countries questioned the intentions of Hamas. Salafi movements’ descriptions of Hamas varied. Some, like Saeed Hillel al-Omar, a Salafism sheikh in Saudi Arabia, described Hamas as “paid, penetrated, and mislead.” Others, like Mohammad Raslan and Dr. Mahmoud Radwani, both followers of Salafism in Egypt, compared the October 7 attacks to 9/11 in being a conspiracy. Omar Abu Al-Asma, a Salafist sheikh in Morocco, described Hamas as a “terrorist separatist movement of the Shiite Brotherhood.”

Supporting Trends

The Muslim Brotherhood and most of its branches in Arab countries have adopted positions supporting the attacks of the Palestinian factions in the Gaza envelope and are also supporting Hamas in the ongoing war in the Gaza envelope. Motives for this support and involvement are various due to many considerations. Among them are that Hamas is one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s branches and it gave the Brotherhood a push after the many years of political failures and internal crises it went through. After a period of differentiation between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, especially concerning their positions on Syria and Iran, the Brotherhood declared its identification with Hamas despite the division between the Brotherhood’s wings in London and Ankara.

The Islamic Group (IG) is the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Lebanon engaged in military action against Israel. It directly entered the confrontation via the al-Fajr Forces military wing, which launched rockets at northern Israel many times, and through coordinating with the Qassam Brigades in Lebanon by providing it support and logistical facilities. This is the first time that the Islamic group in Lebanon has engage in a military confrontation with Israel since the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, when IG’s military wing was part of the framework of the Islamic resistance led by Hezbollah.

Salah Abdel Haq, acting supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in London, issued a statement published on the IG’s official website October 7 in which he blessed the “Toofan Al-Aqsa” operation and called for popular interaction and demonstrations in support of the Palestinian people and their just cause.


The Brotherhood’s branch in Jordan, which enjoys popular support and a savvy connection with the media, was notably active at the onset of war. It seems that the group’s position on the war helped strengthen its popularity in light of its internal crises and troubled relations with the Jordanian government. The group employed the war in escalation against the official position of Jordan. Its Shura Council issued a statement October 24 expressing its “intense dissatisfaction with the official Arab position and its extreme weakness,” in addition to “the need for the Jordanian position to rise with necessary steps to mobilize the Arab position, in order to immediately stop the aggression against the civilians.” Moreover, its press office issued a statement October 25 calling on the Jordanian government to use all its means of pressure. In other words, it called upon Jordan to severe its relations with Israel, expel its ambassador from Amman, and repeal the Wadi Araba agreement, as well as all economic agreements related to gas, water, and electricity. In the same context, the group used its satellite channel, Yarmouk, to cover the war in Gaza within a framework consistent with Hamas’ discourse.

The Muslim Brotherhood branch in Syria was not far from the scene. Its political bureau issued a statement October 8 hailing the Toofan Al-Aqsa operation and greeting the Palestinian factions that changed the scales and imposed a new reality for the conflict in the region, knowing that the group in Syria was among those that opposed restoring Hamas’ relations with the Syrian government.

In the same vein, the positions of political Islam movements, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood or close to it, can be approached, especially the Al-Adl Wal Ihsan Movement in Iraq, the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Islamic Constitutional Movement in Kuwait, the Tunisian Ennahda Movement, the Moroccan Al Adl Wa Al Ihssane, the Algerian Movement Society for Peace, the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, the Islamic Movement in Sudan, the Islamic Groups in Pakistan, and Islamic groups in Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere.

Affected Trends

In the case of al-Qaeda, the war increased the opportunity for reviving its discourse targeting the Arab countries and it activated the strategy for the globalization of jihad against the West and Israel. But in the case of Hizb ut-Tahrir, it is involved with events only in terms of its need to engage in them to enhance its own credibility and Islamic discourse, despite its opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood and it's accusations that the Brotherhood is associated with British policies.

Al-Qaeda: On October 8, al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent issued a statement praising the al-Qassam Brigades without referring to Hamas. The statement tressed that the Toofan Al-Aqsa operation is the appropriate response to the American-backed Israeli aggression. Similar to that were statements from Al-Qaeda in Yemen, the Syrian Guardians of Religion organization, and the Somali Al-Shabab movement.

The joint statement from the Al-Qaeda of Jihad in the Islamic Maghreb and the Support of Islam and Muslims group, as well as the statement from Al-Qaeda’s general command, all praised the role of the Palestinian Mujahideen Movement in the war. Al-Qaeda’s discourse on the war has been influenced by the presence of the Palestinian cause as a major part of the Al-Qaeda’s discourse, but it did not mention Hamas by name due to the doctrinal and political disputes between the two organizations. However, it did note that ISIS did not issue an explicit statements about the war.

Hizb ut-Tahrir: The position of this party remains as it always has been: maintaining traditional statements that call for immediate intervention in support of “the heroic mujahideen and [the liberation of] the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque." Hizb ut-Tahrir has also called upon Lebanese, Palestinian, and Islamic armed organizations in Lebanon to move militarily away from regional and international decisions. This  discourse is dominated by the party’s ideology, which does not believe in practicing material actions as a path to change; rather, it strives to limit its involvement to intellectual conflict and political struggle, keeping itself away from violence or involvement in armed actions.

Possible Tracks and Repercussion of the War

Should the war result in serious political advancement for Hamas, then the repercussions will be in favor of strengthening the Islamic-style discourse of resistance by political Islam movements. This would help Islamic groups achieve political gains at all levels, including elections. This is supported by the great popular sympathy that arose in favor of that discourse, allowing political Islam parties to expand the presence of their regional role and international presence.

As for the long term, it is expected that the discourse of political Islam groups will evolve into a more extreme and militant tendency, specifically in the discourse of the branches of the Muslim Brotherhood and the groups close to it. This extremism will be reflected in the trends of Arab and Islamic societies, regardless of the results of the war in Gaza because the factors that develop such trends are directly related to the very attacks of October 7 and then to the Israeli war, which led to unprecedented human suffering for the people of the Gaza Strip amid the complicity of the international community, specifically United States and European countries.

The danger of extremism resulting from the war lies in the possibilities of its transformation or employment in violent and bloody terrorist practices, both domestically and abroad. Domestically, extremism may target societies and governments or it may ferment armed unrest in countries that suffer from instability and security fragility. As for extremism abroad, Western and Israeli interests may be targeted, especially in the Arab and Islamic states. Employing extremism in this case is multi-layered, whether from regional axes such as Iran or from international axes that have the desire and means to feed proxy wars, a phase that may portend worrying consequences given that it is based on a large reservoir of extremism.


Policy Analysis Team