A crisis has reportedly emerged in relations between Hamas and Iran after the Gaza-based terror group discovered that Tehran had been operating spies to track one of its senior leaders.
According to a Channel 12 news report Thursday, a staffer in Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk’s office was an agent for Iranian intelligence, and reported his movements and conversations during his various trips abroad.
Other agents are believed to have been involved as well, the report said.
The report, by Channel 12’s senior Arab affairs correspondent Ehud Yaari, did not cite sources for the information nor say when the alleged spying was thought to have taken place.
According to Yaari, Abu Marzouk, who resides in Qatar and is in charge of Hamas’s foreign relations, is known to be averse to its close ties with Iran.
The Islamic Republic is a longtime financial supporter of Hamas, the terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip and says it seeks Israel’s destruction. Israel has long charged Iran with trying to arm Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and maintains a blockade of the Strip to try and stop the import of sophisticated weapons systems.
At the same time, Hamas has also resisted moving too close to hardliners in Tehran, unlike fellow Gazan terror group Islamic Jihad, which has built up a large arsenal thanks in large degree to support from the Islamic Republic.
Iran and Hamas have nonetheless in recent years sought to reinvigorate their relationship after the two found themselves on opposite sides in the early years of the Syrian civil war.
In the past several years, senior Hamas figures have visited Tehran and praised the Islamic Republic for vowing to support Palestinian terror groups in Gaza. However, Hamas has also sought to maintain ties with other countries such as Egypt, which largely views Iran as a regional foe.
According to Channel 12, on discovering the Iranian spying, a furious Abu Marzouk complained to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who personally raised the issue with Hezbollah leader Hassan Hasrallah “and other senior figures.”
The staffer was forced to leave Abu Marzouk’s office and has fled to Sudan, the report said.
Abu Marzouk denied the report.
“There is no truth to the claims being circulated in the occupation’s media,” he wrote on Twitter, claiming that the report was a “fabrication whose sole purpose is to stir up trouble.”