The Gaza-ruling Hamas on Tuesday thanked Iran for its financial “adoption” of the families of Palestinians killed and wounded during clashes it has been encouraging along the border with Israeli troops.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said his group “values” and “highly appreciates” Iran’s support, the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya broadcaster reported.
Barhoum’s statement comes after an adviser to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Hamas-linked Al-Risalah that the decision to “adopt” the families was taken during the Islamic Unity Conference being held in Tehran.
Since March 30, Palestinians have been holding weekly “March of Return” protests on the border, which Israel has accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers of using to carry out attacks on troops and attempt to breach the security fence. Hamas, an Islamist terror group, seeks to destroy Israel.
Israel has demanded an end to the violent demonstrations along the border as part of any long-term ceasefire agreement.
Earlier this month, Israel engaged in its largest battle with Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza since the 2014 war.
During the regular Friday protests the rioters have been burning tires, hurling rocks at troops, and detonating explosives. The clashes have also included the launching of kites and balloons carrying incendiary devices toward Israel, burning thousands of acres of forest and farmland.
Israeli fire has killed more than 170 Palestinians at the clashes since they began in March, according to The Associated Press. Dozens of the dead were members of Hamas and other terrorist groups. A Gazan terrorist shot dead an Israeli soldier in July.
Iran, an arch-foe of Israel, has supported Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, most notably Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Its ties with Hamas have thawed in recent months, following years of tensions that began at the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011 when Hamas criticized Syrian President Bashar Assad, a close ally of Iran.
Agencies contributed to this report.