Hamas denies endorsing ties with Hezbollah

A spokesman for the Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades says there is no split within Hamas regarding Assad’s Lebanese ally

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Members of Hamas's al-Qassam Brigades in Rafah, December 2011 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Members of Hamas's al-Qassam Brigades in Rafah, December 2011 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

A Hamas military spokesman on Wednesday denied that his movement supports an alliance with the Shiite Lebanese movement Hezbollah, dismissing a report in an influential Arab newspaper.

Citing an “extremely knowledgeable source in Hamas,” the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that Hamas’s military wing, the Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, would like to maintain its alliance with Hezbollah in Lebanon, claiming that the use of arms against Israel is a more effective way of liberating the land than financial donations from Arab states.

According to the report, the Qassam Brigades conveyed their position last week in a letter to Hamas’s political leadership — headed by Khaled Mashaal — which favors severing ties with Iran and its regional allies. Hamas “heavyweights” in Gaza, including Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, favor the alliance with Iran and Hezbollah, the report said.

But Abu-Ubaida, a spokesman for the Qassam Brigades, denied in a statement that Hamas’s armed wing had a different position on Hezbollah than its political wing.

“This report is baseless, so we do not want to comment on its details,” Abu-Ubaida wrote, adding that the political wing represented Hamas’s position as a whole.

Hamas severed its close ties with the Bashar Assad regime in Syria and allies Iran and Hezbollah in January 2012 when it shut its Damascus offices, moving its political leadership to Qatar and Egypt. Last December, Hamas denied reports that its offices in Tehran were also closed, but political leader Khaled Mashaal confirmed during a public rally that Hamas was no longer part of the Iranian-Syrian axis.

However, according to the report in Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a Hamas delegation headed by Qassam Brigades commander Marwan Issa is currently visiting Iran in a bid to strengthen the longstanding alliance between Hamas’s military wing and the Islamic Republic.

On Tuesday, Lebanon’s opposition daily Al-Mustaqbal reported that Hezbollah had begun cracking down on Hamas officials in Beirut’s southern suburbs and monitoring their movements. On May 30, Hamas denied that Ali Baraka, its leader in Lebanon, was told by Hezbollah to leave the country immediately.

In the letter to Hamas’s political wing, the Qassam Brigades reportedly asked that the movement not favor Qatari patronage over that of Iran, because Hamas fighters would undoubtedly favor the latter.  

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