Before the Friday noon prayer on Nov. 24, the streets of downtown Amman filled up with Palestinian flags. For the seventh Friday in a row, thousands poured into the city center to rally in support of the political party and armed group Hamas and protest Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip.
With atrocities mounting in Gaza, the demonstrators pointed the finger at the United States. “America is the head of the snake,” they chanted in Arabic. A large poster rose out of the sea of Palestinian flags: on it was a shoe plastered to US President Joe Biden’s face. “Biden is a war criminal and child killer,” the poster read.
In the weeks since a deadly Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7, Israel’s war in Gaza has killed nearly 15,000 people — the deadliest violence since 1948, when fighting before, during and after Israel’s establishment forced more than 750,000 Palestinians to flee their homes.
In the crowd, 36-year-old Karen al-Khaldi held a poster she had drawn, depicting a muscular man running as he carries a weapon and reads in Arabic: “We are on the way to free Palestine.” Karen, who lives in Amman, said she is originally from Jenin, a city in the northern part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. She is among the estimated 60% of Jordanians who are of Palestinian origin.
“We condemn the war crimes Israel has been committing,” Karen said. “America is unequal and inhumane, the source of all the money and weapons… Hamas is not a war criminal, as they say, but the party of resistance. Palestine is our right, from the river to the sea, and all people have the full right to defend their land.”
Throughout the war, the popularity of Hamas and its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, has risen “significantly” and at an unprecedented clip in Jordan, according to Abdullah Jbour, an analyst of Jordanian affairs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The most vocal support for Hamas had formally come mostly from those Jordanians of Palestinian origin and Jordan’s Hamas-supportive political parties, such as the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. But as casualties soar in Gaza, Jordanians, notably those from the country’s largest tribes originating east of the Jordan River, are also raising their voices in support of armed resistance to Israel over political negotiations, Jbour explained.
Embedded in the country’s security and political apparatuses, Jordan’s tribes have long served as the backbone of the state — and their vocal support for Hamas’ military wing carries heavy weight.