The Hamas terror group on Thursday thanked UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for his solidarity in recognizing Palestinian mourning over the 71st anniversary of the formation of the State of Israel.
Corbyn in a written statement had backed a Nakba Day march held in London on Saturday. The annual commemoration and protest marks the “disaster” of Arab displacement during Israel’s War of Independence.
Hamas said the Labour leader expressed “support and solidarity with the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights to freedom, independence and self-determination.”
The terror group also praised him for condemning “the ongoing occupation and its crimes against our people,” and said his statement “reflects an advanced moral and political position worthy of all praise and thanks.”
“We also call on the current British government to stop supporting the Israeli occupation state and to listen to the voice of wisdom and reason and adopt policies in support of the Palestinian legitimate rights that will lead to stability in this vitally important and highly turbulent region,” the English-language statement read.
Hamas, a terrorist organization sworn to Israel’s destruction, has ruled Gaza since 2007.
An estimated 3,000-4,000 activists attended a pro-Palestinian march in London Saturday, calling to “free Palestine” and for an end to “unprecedented attacks” on Palestinians by Israel.
Leading the march was Ahed Tamimi, an 18-year-old who became an icon of the Palestinian cause after she was jailed in 2017 for slapping an Israeli soldier on film.
Ahead of the protests Corbyn expressed his support for the Nakba Day event on his Facebook page.
“We cannot stand by or stay silent at the continuing denial of rights and justice to the Palestinian people,” he wrote. “The Labour Party is united in condemning the ongoing human rights abuses by Israeli forces, including the shooting of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza… demanding their rights.”
The Labour leader has in the past been criticized for calling terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” when inviting members for a parliamentary meeting in 2009. He later downplayed the comment and said he regretted using the term.
He has also been dogged by accusations of allowing anti-Semitism to spread unchecked within the party.
Corbyn’s statement referenced a round of violence last week in which four Israelis were killed by projectiles fired by Hamas and other Gazan terror groups into Israel and 29 Palestinians were killed in reprisal air raids by Israel. But he made no mention of the nearly 700 rockets shot into Israel over two days.
“Last week’s escalation of violence, during raids on Gaza, killing 25 Palestinians, and four Israelis, is both distressing and dangerous,” he said.
He accused the British government of deafening silence, called for condemnation of “the killing of demonstrators — including children, paramedics and journalists – and other civilians, and demanded that Britain “freeze arms sales to Israel.”
Hamas also thanked Corbyn for his opposition to the upcoming US peace plan.
Israeli MK Yair Lapid, one of the leaders of the Blue and White party, chided Corbyn. “Here is a free piece of advice: if Hamas is thanking you then you’re on the side of terrorism,” he said, according to the Telegraph.
Corbyn did not speak at the march, but Jewish Voice for Labour Secretary Glyn Secker gave a widely cheered address in which he claimed that Jews were “in the gutter” and “part of the problem.”
Secker also accused “American rabbis” of fueling the neo-Nazis behind anti-Semitic terrorism, including the fatal terrorist attack on Poway synagogue, and claimed that they were “unleashing the extreme-right to win key votes in marginal states which determine the presidency,” according to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.
He called the 119 Labour lawmakers who are “friends of Israel” a “fifth column in the Labour Party.”
Secker is set to give a speech on anti-Semitism to Labour activists on May 30, and will use the address to deny it being an issue within the party, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
Jewish groups have accused Corbyn of overseeing a massive surge in anti-Semitism within the party, once considered the natural home of British Jewry.
Earlier this month, a Jewish advocacy group in London accused the Labour Party of “endemic anti-Jewish behavior” and asked the government to investigate.
Corbyn has also been criticized over his ties to Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.
Last year it emerged that in 2014 Corbyn attended a ceremony that honored the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre. He later said “I was present when [a wreath] was laid, I don’t think I was actually involved in it.”
Also last year, the Labour leader came under fire after a video from 2013 surfaced on Twitter of him appearing to compare Israeli military rule in the West Bank to the Nazi occupation of European countries during World War II.
According to the Telegraph, in 2012 Corbyn sat on a panel in Doha with several Palestinian terrorists sentenced for murder, sharing the platform with then-Hamas head Khaled Mashaal.
A spokesperson for Corbyn told the Telegraph on Thursday that the Labour chief “has a long and principled record of solidarity with the Palestinian people. That is the right thing to do.”