ALEXANDRIA: Yemeni human rights activists, journalists and politicians have strongly criticized Hamas for honoring the Iran-backed Houthi militia shortly after fighters launched a ballistic missile and explosive-laden drone that killed 21 civilians in the central Yemeni city of Marib.
Mouath Abu Shemala, a Hamas figure based in Houthi-held Sanaa, met on Sunday with high-profile Houthi official Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi and presented him with a Hamas plaque in recognition of the group’s latest fundraising campaign for the Palestinian militant organization.
Houthi media reported that Abu Shemala thanked the Houthi movement for responding to Palestinian appeals for assistance during the latest Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
The meeting sparked outrage in the country.
Yemenis slammed Hamas for honoring the Houthi movement, which is responsible for the killing of thousands of people in the country and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Shouqi Al-Qadhi, a member of the Yemeni parliament, said on Twitter that he was “shocked” by the Hamas decision, demanding that it issue an “official clarification” or Yemenis would “sever ties.”
He added: “We are waiting for a full clarification from Hamas about its shocking stance. Does this person (Abu Shemala) officially represent it?”
Hamadan Al-Alyae, a Yemeni journalist, accused Hamas of “betraying” Yemenis by honoring Houthi militants, who oversaw the deadly missile and drone strike on Marib.
“We waited for Hamas to issue a statement denouncing the Houthi crime of burning children in Marib. Instead, the representative of the movement went to honor one of the leaders of the gang that committed the heinous crime,” he said.
Many Yemenis have long accused Houthis of exploiting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories to recruit new fighters, pushing them to fight government forces in Yemen.
Hesham Al-Zaiady, a Yemeni news anchor, said senior Houthis view the Hamas move as recognition of their advocacy for Palestine, and will use it in Yemen to recruit more fighters.
He added: “Do you know, after this picture, how many fighters the Houthis will mobilize to fight their Yemeni brothers in Marib, Taiz and Al-Dhale, with the justification of liberating Jerusalem?”
Amer Al-Saudi, a poet, described Hamas’ honoring of the Houthis as a “wound,” adding that it could cause a decline in support among some Yemenis, who have long supported the movement by donating funds, and naming their children and schools after its leaders.
“Other Yemenis will not forget this wound and this vile reward of their killers,” Al-Saudi said.