Sonny Bill Williams has sparked outrage over a simple social media post that suggests Hamas militants should be described as freedom fighters.
The code-hopping athlete on Sunday night liked a message from American law professor Khaled Beydoun that suggested the Palestinian militants are “freedom fighters” in the same way Ukrainian forces are acting in response to Russia’s invasion.
Williams, who has previously shared public prayers for Palestinians and referred to Israel as “oppressors”, on Sunday night shared one emoji that showed his continued support the militants that rule the Gaza Strip.
Hamas on Saturday launched an extensive attack against Israel, coinciding with the Jewish holiday Simchat Torah. It launched thousands of rockets from Gaza, while militants infiltrated Israeli communities, killing residents and abducting hostages.
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his nation was “at war” with Hamas.
The combined death toll in Israel and Gaza has passed 1100, with thousands more wounded.
Officials in Israel say more than 700 Israelis were killed after Hamas launched a surprise attack early Saturday morning.
Israeli has been pounding Gaza with air strikes and at least 400 Palestinians have been killed.
It’s why Williams’ Twitter activity has gone down like a lead balloon with some.
Williams shared message from the controversial American commentator included a “100 per cent” emoji.
“So, Ukrainian civilians defending their families are ‘freedom fighters’… But Palestinians in Gaza doing the EXACT same thing are ‘terrorists?” Williams reposted.
Williams’ message also included a praying emoji.
The post has more than 12,000 likes and has been viewed more than 730,000 times.
However, there has been an angry response from some Twitter users asking for the post to be removed from Twitter, now known as X.
One fan posted that Williams should have “sat on the bench” rather than share his opinions on the conflict.
One fan wrote: “Shame on you”.
One fan even tried to get the attention of Williams’ employers at Channel 9 and Stan Sport where Williams has been working on the network’s coverage of the Rugby World Cup in France, to ask if the TV goliath stands by Williams’ comment.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about as usual bro. Do some fact checking, it’s not that difficult,” another fan wrote.
Williams in 2021 called for Australia to boycott the Winter Olympics in China over the appalling treatment of the Uighur ethnic minority in the north west of the country.
The region’s Muslim community has been the target of systematic human rights abuses by the Chinese Communist Party with thousands left in modern-day concentration camps.
He first voiced his outrage at the actions of the Chinese government in 2019 when he shared an image illustrating oppression against the community.