Delegation of senior Hamas officials arrives in Tehran

Terror group leader Ismail Haniyeh says mission will last a few days, expects ‘important results,’ stays mum on specific goals

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh speaks during a meeting with foreign reporters in Gaza City on June 20, 2019 (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh speaks during a meeting with foreign reporters in Gaza City on June 20, 2019 (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday that a delegation of senior officials from the terror group had arrived in Tehran for a visit.

Haniyeh was mum about the purpose of the mission. The delegation was headed by the leader of the group’s military wing in the West Bank, Saleh al-Arouri, the Maariv news site reported.

“The visit will go on for a few days. We’re expecting important results,” Haniyeh said.

Iran is a backer of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas terror group’s armed wing, and the al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military branch.

According to the London-based publication Middle East Monitor, described as a pro-Hamas outlet by the BBC, a Hamas delegation met with Iranian officials in Beirut on Friday at the Iranian embassy.

The delegation, which according to the report includes Hamas’ Lebanon representative Ahmed Abdel Hadi, met with the special aide to the President of the Iranian Shura Council, Hossein Amirabdollahian, and briefed him on “the latest developments” and reactions to the US peace plan.

Last month, Washington unveiled the details of the economic aspect of the US peace plan, dubbed “the deal of the century,” saying it would inject $50 billion into struggling economies in the Middle East over the next ten years.

The plan was unveiled in Bahrain in June by White House adviser Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, who hailed it as a “success.”

The proposal — which aims in 10 years to create a million new jobs, slashing unemployment and improving living standards in the West Bank, Gaza and across the Middle East — has been rejected by Palestinians because it does not include a framework for resolving their conflict with Israel. US officials say the political portion of the plan addressing the longstanding thorny issues may not be released until fall.

The summit was boycotted by the Palestinian Authority and thus did not include any official Palestinian delegation. Hamas, vowed to Israel’s destruction, accused Kushner of becoming a “spokesman for the Israeli occupation.”

On Saturday, Haniyeh said Hamas did not oppose establishing a temporary Palestinian state based on 1967 borders but maintained the group’s view that Israel’s control over any lands was illegitimate. He made the comments to a group of Turkish reporters, the Ynet news site reported.

On Friday, several thousand Palestinians gathered near the Hamas-run Gaza Strip’s border with Israel to take part in weekly protests near the fence.

Some 6,000 people reportedly took part in the demonstrations. The Israeli army said some rioters hurled rocks and explosive devices at the border fence and that troops were responding with less-lethal means as well as live fire in several cases where suspects attempted to sabotage or break through the border.

A Palestinian protester hurls rocks at an Israeli army vehicle during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces across the barbed-wire fence during a border demonstration near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 19, 2019. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said over 100 people had been injured in the demonstrations, around half of whom were hit by live fire. Also hurt were four paramedics and two reporters, the ministry said.

Channel 12 news reported that an Israel Defense Forces vehicle was hit by a bullet during the demonstrations, but no one was hurt.

Egyptian security officials had held talks with Palestinian leaders in recent days, in part to prevent a new flare-up of tensions between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Fresh tensions were feared last weekend after Israel shot dead a Hamas field commander along the border, prompting the Islamist terror organization to vow revenge.

Israel later signaled it had fired in error, saying an initial inquiry showed the Hamas member, Mahmoud Ahmad Sabri al-Adham, had been erroneously identified by soldiers as an armed terrorist, but was apparently an operative trying to stop Palestinian youths from breaching the security fence.

Under the fragile ceasefire brokered by Egyptian and UN officials following a severe flareup in May, Israel is meant to ease aspects of its blockade on the coastal enclave in exchange for relative calm. Israel maintains that the blockade is necessary to prevent arms from entering Gaza that could be used in attacks against it.

Supporters of Hamas attend a rally marking the terror group’s founding in Gaza City on December 14, 2015. (Emad Nassar/Flash90)

Al-Adham’s death threatened to spark another round of large-scale violence between Israel and terror groups in Gaza. Throughout the past year and a half, the two sides have fought several bouts — with terror groups firing mortar shells, rockets and missiles at Israeli cities and towns, and the IDF retaliating with airstrikes — often sparked by smaller incidents along the border.

Last week at the protests a senior Hamas official called for members of the Palestinian diaspora to kill Jews around the world, but was forced to walk back his comments as the terrorist group distanced itself from his remarks.

Fathi Hammad, a Hamas politburo member considered a hardliner and known for his fiery rhetoric, said: “We must attack every Jew on the globe by way of slaughter and killing.”

His comments were condemned by PA and UN officials as well as by leaders of his own group.

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