Hamas, Islamic Jihad heads give condolences to Iran’s FM on Soleimani’s death

Haniyeh praises Iranian general’s ‘role in supporting the resistance and backing the Palestinian people’s rights’; Abbas’s spokesman declines to comment

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with foreign reporters at al-Mat'haf hotel in Gaza City, June 20, 2019. (AP Photo/ Adel Hana)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with foreign reporters at al-Mat'haf hotel in Gaza City, June 20, 2019. (AP Photo/ Adel Hana)

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziad al-Nakhalah called Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday and expressed their condolences to him on the death of powerful Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in an American strike on Friday, according to the terror groups.

Soleimani was the commander of the elite Quds Force in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the body responsible for Tehran’s military campaigns and expeditions abroad.

Haniyeh spoke highly to Zarif of Soleimani’s “role in supporting the resistance and backing the Palestinian people’s rights,” Hamas said in a report posted on its website.

Iran is widely believed to significantly support the military wings of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad with weapons and training.

Zarif thanked the Hamas chairman for the call and stated that Iran would continue to back “the Palestinian people’s rights and resistance in defense of its land and holy sites,” the terror group’s report said.

The death of Soleimani marks a major escalation in a standoff between Washington and Tehran, which has careened from one crisis to another since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has vowed “harsh retaliation” for Soleimani’s killing and dubbed the deceased commander the “international face of resistance.” Khamenei has also declared three days of public mourning and appointed General Esmail Ghaani, who was Soleimani’s deputy, to replace him as head of the Quds Force.

Ziad al-Nakhaleh, secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, delivering a televised speech on December 19, 2019. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Nakhaleh, Islamic Jihad’s head, told Zarif that the US’s decision to kill Soleimani is an “indication of the major role this man [played] in strengthening the resistance axis and the struggle for Palestine,” a report on the terror group’s website said.

Nakhaleh also said that Soleimani’s death was a “huge loss but at the same time he will be a model for all Muslims and free people in the world regarding how to confront America and the Zionist entity,” the report said.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad put out statements on Friday mourning Soleimani’s death.

Meanwhile, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, which maintains relations with many of Iran’s rivals such as Saudi Arabia, has not taken a position on the Iranian general’s killing.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, declined on Sunday to express an opinion on the matter.

“It is an issue that we don’t have anything to deal with it [sic],” Abu Rudeineh told a group of Israeli reporters in Ramallah in English-language remarks, contending that the killing is an “Israeli-American-Iranian problem.”

“Our policy has always been clear: We don’t interfere in the politics of the others [sic] — whether Israel, Iran or America,” he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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