JERUSALEM – After killing off its Mickey Mouse-lookalike, Hamas has turned to another Disneyesque character — televising a cartoon with a "Lion King" wannabe to portray the Islamic group's victory in the Gaza Strip over the Fatah movement.
The cartoon depicts Fatah members as sneaky rats, brandishing guns and being showered with U.S. dollars, while Hamas is portrayed as a confident, calm lion that resembles Simba in the 1994 Walt Disney Co. movie "The Lion King."
The five-minute video, titled "A message to the criminal gangs in the occupied West Bank," is the second production of the Hamas-run Al Aqsa TV enlisting a famous Disney character.
In May, Hamas TV used a Mickey Mouse knockoff to preach Islamic domination to children. After an uproar among Israelis and Palestinians, that character was killed off and his weekly show replaced.
Hazem Sharawi, an executive with Hamas TV, said the cartoon of the lion vanquishing the rats was broadcast Thursday but quickly pulled off the air for revisions. He said it was "flashed" for one day to counter what he called anti-Hamas propaganda coming from Fatah in the West Bank.
The cartoon also was posted on the Web site of the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington-based group that monitors the Arabic media.
The piece shows rats trampling over Gaza, burning houses, stepping over homes, uprooting trees, firing at mosques and desecrating the Quran, Islam's holy book.
Their leader is clearly a portrayal of Fatah's former Gaza strongman, Mohammed Dahlan, who has fled Gaza. Wearing a tie and smoking a cigar, the chief rat grabs a microphone and tells the crowd: "Move back and let Hamas shoot me." Dahlan made that comment during the showdown with Hamas, and his voice is dubbed into the scene.
Throughout the video, the lion silently watches the rats, preparing his claws and shaking his mane. When he pounces, the rats flee in terror as he knocks them about with his claws. Injured and limping rats then say: "Off to the West Bank."
After Hamas' victory in Gaza two months ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a Fatah member, formed a new government in the West Bank, where many top Fatah officials in Gaza have taken refuge.
"Viewers from all over loved it. They called in to praise it," Sharawi said of the cartoon.
He said the final version will be toned down before it is broadcast again, with the Dahlan scene among those to be cut.
But he said there were no plans to erase the Lion King references, including a final scene showing the victorious lion standing on a hill overlooking Gaza with his mane flying in the wind.
"Disney stole a lion from the forest. We stole another lion," Sharawi said chuckling.