Terror chiefs Nasrallah, Haniyeh meet in Beirut, vow ‘intensified’ anti-Israel action
Leaders of Hezbollah, Hamas discuss their ‘axis of resistance,’ against backdrop of rocket fire, terror attacks; also present, Hamas official said behind rocket fire from Lebanon
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah met with a delegation led by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Beirut on Sunday to discuss cooperation, amid spiking violence in Israel from rocket barrages and terror attacks.
In addition to two deadly terror attacks on Friday, rockets were fired last week from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in attacks Israel has blamed on Hamas. Six rockets were fired toward Israel overnight from Syria.
Nasrallah and Haniyeh discussed “the readiness of the axis of resistance” — a reference to Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian and other Iran-backed terror groups opposed to Israel.
The two also discussed “the intensification of resistance in the West Bank and Gaza” and “events at Al-Aqsa mosque” in Jerusalem, according to the statement.
Saleh al-Arouri, a founding commander of Hamas’s military wing and the group’s West Bank leader, accompanied the delegation.
According to Channel 12 news, al-Arouri is thought to be responsible for the firing of the rockets from Lebanon last week.
Thirty-four rockets were fired from southern Lebanon on Thursday afternoon in the most serious barrage in years, with 25 intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system over northern Israel. At least three people were injured and several buildings were damaged. Rockets were also fired from the Gaza Strip. The attacks followed two consecutive nights of clashes between police and Palestinians at Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
Iran-backed Hezbollah has close ties with Hamas, which rules Gaza, and with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, which is also based in the coastal enclave.
Hamas has been gradually establishing a presence in Lebanon over the past several years with a nod from Hezbollah.
Haniyeh has been in Beirut since Wednesday.
The meeting between the terror leaders came as regional tensions soared as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan clashed with the Jewish holiday of Passover. Channel 12 news said the terror chiefs met as Esmail Ghanni, head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, was visiting Damascus.
Following police incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque to quell rioting on Thursday, Hamas terrorists fired volleys of rockets at Israel from Gaza and Lebanon, prompting Israeli retaliatory strikes.
On Friday, two sisters were killed and their mother was left fighting for her life in a shooting attack in the West Bank. Later that night, an Italian tourist was killed and seven others were hurt in a suspected car-ramming attack on a promenade in Tel Aviv.
Another six rockets were launched on Saturday night and early Sunday, this time from southern Syria at the Golan Heights in two separate barrages hours apart, with three landing in Israeli territory, the military said.
After the second barrage, the Israel Defense Forces said it carried out artillery and drone strikes in southern Syria, targeting the launchers that had been used to fire the rockets. Later, Israeli fighter jets carried out additional airstrikes near the capital Damascus.
A local Palestinian militia called Liwa al-Quds, or the Jerusalem Brigade, claimed responsibility for the rocket launches, according to the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese Al Mayadeen network.
In addition, Hezbollah is suspected to be behind a bombing in northern Israel last month that left a man seriously injured. Jerusalem believes the attack was carried out by a terrorist who crossed the Lebanon border fence using a ladder.