Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip, including the enclave’s Hamas rulers, on Saturday opened a mourning site for the slain Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Hundreds gathered to trample on and burn American and Israeli flags.
Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas official, said the killing of Soleimani was “a loss for Palestine and the resistance.”
“We are loyal to those who stood with the resistance and with Palestine and we hold the US administration and the Zionist occupation fully responsible for the consequences of this deplorable crime,” he added, according to Reuters.
Iran has long provided aid to the armed wing of Hamas and to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, some of whose leaders visited the mourning tent.
Israel has reportedly warned the terror groups against any attempted response from the Gaza Strip to the US killing of Soleimani.
The warning was transferred via Egypt, according to a Walla news site report Friday.
Meanwhile, Israel will convene its security cabinet on Sunday in the wake of Iranian threats to avenge Soleimani — Tehran has threatened both the US and Israel.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, on Friday expressed its “sincere condolences” to Iran’s leadership after Soleimani was killed in Baghdad overnight and hailed his support for the “Palestinian resistance,” but did not issue any overt threat.
The Islamist group’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, in the past lauded the “strong, powerful and warm” ties Hamas enjoyed with Soleimani.
The Iran-backed Islamic Jihad, which in November fought a two-day battle with Israel after one its military commanders was killed in an Israeli strike, has yet to respond to Soleimani’s killing with a statement.
Iran has for years sought to arm the Palestinian terror groups with rockets, mortars and missiles.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a left-wing terror group, said the killing of Soleimani called for “a coordinated, comprehensive and continuous response from resistance forces” against “American and Zionist interests.”
The US strike on Soleimani came amid efforts to broker a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which have fought three wars since the terror group took control of Gaza in 2007. Israel’s security cabinet was reported to have convened twice earlier in the week to discuss the proposed ceasefire deal.
According to Channel 12 news, major progress had been made toward a deal since Israel killed Baha Abu al-Ata, the Islamic Jihad commander. Abu al-Ata was seen as a major force against coming to a truce with Israel in the Strip, and following his elimination Hamas had proven far more inclined to come to an accord, the network said. Contrary to its usual approach, Hamas had shied away from the combat following the Islamic Jihad terror chief’s killing and Israel, too, had avoided hitting the group.
For over a year now, Egypt has been a key player in brokering informal ceasefire understandings between Israel and terror groups in Gaza, including Hamas.
The understandings have largely entailed Israel lifting restrictions on the movement into and out of Gaza in exchange for Hamas maintaining relative quiet in the border region between the coastal enclave and the Jewish state.