A Hamas representative in Iran on Monday denied local media reports that the movement’s offices in Tehran were shut as punishment for the Islamic movement’s stance on Syria.
“The Hamas office in Tehran is active like before, and today — just as always — it is open and running,” the unnamed official told Iran’s conservative Tabnak news website. “Dr. Khaled Qadoumi, Hamas’s representative in Tehran, is also in the office as he is every day, working and following up meetings.”
Hamas and Iran have both confirmed their relationship has suffered in recent months since Hamas’s political leadership abandoned its Damascus headquarters in January, protesting the Syrian regime’s oppression of the popular uprising.
During a mass rally in Gaza Saturday marking Hamas’s 25th anniversary, Syrian opposition flags were waved and political leader Khaled Mashaal reportedly declared that Hamas was no longer part of the Iranian-Syrian axis, a statement which angered Iranian officials.
The fallout between Iran and Hamas was also expressed in Iran’s mainstream media on Monday. An editorial in conservative daily Jomhouri-e Eslami titled “Is Hamas changing its skin?” criticized Hamas’s purported complacency in the face of Israeli violations of the ceasefire in Gaza, claiming that Hamas is effectively recognizing Israeli sovereignty.
“If this is the situation, Iran can only hope that its investments in the Palestinian cause were given to the right groups,” the editorial read.
Meir Litvak, director of the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, said Iran’s anger toward Hamas has not yet degenerated into a complete rupture. He added that while Tehran wished to remain a player in the Palestinian arena, Hamas’s leadership remained divided on its reliance on the Islamic Republic.
“There are two attitudes within Hamas regarding Iran,” Litvak told The Times of Israel. “[Khaled] Mashaal is more focused on the Arab arena and therefore shies away from Iran. But there are others within Gaza who do not want to lose the Iranian support.”
Iran, for its part, has decided to strengthen its backing for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which always remained loyal, at the expense of Hamas.
“As someone once said: ‘Hamas works with Iran while Islamic Jihad works for Iran,” Litvak added.