In an attempt to to return to the fold of Iranian patronage, the Gaza-based terror group Hamas has been holding meetings with representatives of its Lebanon-based, Tehran-sponsored counterpart Hezbollah.
According to a report from Asharq Al-Awsat, cited by Israel Radio on Sunday, two representatives from Hamas met with Hezbollah members at the Iranian embassy in Beirut last month. The meeting, attended by Hamas senior official Moussa Abu Marzouk, focused on increasing Iranian support for Hamas.
According to a Hamas source in Gaza, there have been other meetings, all of which stressed that Hamas is a strategic partner to Iran.
Relations between Hamas and Iran soured over Syria’s civil war. Whereas Tehran and Hezbollah back the Assad regime, in February 2012 Hamas’s Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh openly called for support of the rebels, aligning himself with other Sunni groups that have struck out against the Alawite Assad and his Shiite backers.
As the civil war in Syria has deepened, most of the country’s half-million Palestinians have championed the rebels, while some groups — such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command — have been fighting on the government’s side.
Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal has never publicly taken sides, but in early 2012 slipped out of Syria for Qatar, drawing an angry response from Damascus.
In June, Hamas scolded Hezbollah for fighting alongside the Syrian Army against the rebels and told the organization to go back to fighting Israel.
“We demand of Hezbollah to withdraw its forces from Syria and call on it to leave its weapons directed only at the Zionist enemy,” read a statement by Hamas, posted on the Facebook page of its deputy political leader Moussa Abu Marzouq. “The entry of [Hezbollah] forces to Syria has contributed to increasing the sectarian mobilization in the region.”