Muslims are reacting angrily to a post by Israel's official Arabic language account on Twitter after it shared verses from the Quran seemingly justifying its bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip.

The tweet shared on Tuesday morning included verses from the chapter (or surah) known as 'the elephant', alongside a photo of a plume of smoke rising out of a building after an Israeli airstrike.

In Islamic tradition, Surah Al-Fil (the elephant) describes a pre-Islamic episode in Arabian history where an army made up of war elephants marches on the holy city of Mecca, only to be defeated by flocks of birds, which drop stones on the advancing army.

A reasonable inference would therefore be that the Israeli military is comparing itself to the birds, which rescued Mecca in the Quranic account, from the war elephants, which in this case refers to Hamas.

Israel's bombing campaign, which started on 10 May, has at the time of publication killed at least 217 Palestinians in the besieged territory, of which 61 are children and 36 are women.

Given that context, the Arabic language tweet drew angry reactions from users on Twitter, who saw it as a taunt and not in keeping with the facts on the ground: namely that, in their eyes, the Israeli military is considered the aggressor.

One user responding to the tweet mockingly asked: "And you are the people of righteousness?"

While another responded: "Nothing could possibly be viler, more inhumane, than Israel’s Arabic Twitter page using a Quran verse to mock the bombings they’re conducting on Gaza. Our holy book’s verses are not something you use for your sick and twisted aesthetics." The US publication Mondoweiss simply said: "This is sick."

Many Twitter users saw the post as a deliberate taunt given Gaza's overwhelmingly Muslim population, especially given ties between Israel and far-right anti-Muslim groups in the US.

In recent years, however, Israel has also courted Muslim states, most notably Gulf states, such as the UAE and Bahrain, which along with Morocco and Sudan normalized relations with the state in 2020.