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Malaysia and the War in Gaza

The Hamas terror organization launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7th, 2023, under the name “Al-Aqsa Flood”. Hamas fired a rocket barrage of at least 3,000 rockets into Israel and Hamas terrorists crossed the border with Israel. Around 1,200 Israelis were killed and over 240 were taken hostage. Following the violent attack by Hamas, Israel launched operation “Swords of Iron” and declared a state of war. Israel told Palestinian civilians to evacuate the north of the Gaza Strip before it launched a ground offensive in a bid to eradicate Hamas and free hostages.

Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation supports the Palestinian cause in general and Hamas in particular and does not recognize Israel diplomatically. Since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th, 2023, Malaysia is one of the most vocal supporters of the Hamas terrorist organization. On October 17, 2023, Malaysian Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, spoke to Ismail Haniyeh, the Political Bureau Chief of Hamas, and expressed Malaysia’s “unwavering support for the Palestinian people”.

Malaysia has proved a “paradise” for Hamas in the past decades. For the most part, it has provided humanitarian, political, financial and propaganda support. However, there have been instances where Malaysia has enabled or at least turned a blind eye to the military-terrorist activities carried out by Hamas on its soil, although Malaysian authorities have repeatedly denied it.

Supporting any type of radical Islamic organization including Hamas can be risky for Malaysia, which tries to maintain a fragile balance between Islam and modernity and democracy. Malaysia must learn from the experience of other Muslim states, which found radical Islam to be a “double edge sword” and halt its assistance to Hamas and other radical Islamic terrorist organizations.