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October 23, 2017 No.
7144

Alongside Reconciliation With Fatah, Hamas Officials Tighten Relations With Iran, Call To 'Wipe Israel Off The Map'

On October 12, 2017, Fatah and Hamas signed an Egypt-brokered reconciliation agreement in Cairo. According to the agreement, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is to resume full control of Gaza, including of the border crossings. Complex issues, such as those concerning Hamas's weapons and the PA employees in Gaza, were deferred and are to be handled by committees.

While advancing the reconciliation, Hamas's leaders have been making militant statements, stressing that the jihad and resistance against Israel will continue, both in Gaza and in the West Bank, and that Hamas will not disarm as part of the agreement with Fatah. Hamas political bureau head Yahya Sinwar even stated explicitly that his movement's goal is "to wipe Israel off the map."

Furthermore, on October 20, 2017 a high-ranking Hamas delegation arrived for a three-day visit in Iran. During the visit, the Hamas officials emphasized the movement's intention to continue the resistance and strengthen its relations with Iran, whom Sinwar called "the main supporter of [Hamas's military wing], the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades."

The following is a sampling of statements made recently by Hamas officials:


The Hamas delegates in Iran with Iranian representatives (image: alresalah.ps, October 22, 2017)

Hamas Officials: Hamas Spearheads The Jihad Program; The Goal Is The Destruction Of Israel

Yahya Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in Gaza, said on October 19, 2017 in a meeting with Gazan teenagers: "The era of [talking about] a Hamas recognition of Israel is over, and nobody can discuss recognition of Israel because our goal is to wipe it off the map."[1] He added that Al-Qassam Brigades commander Muhammad Deif had once told him that "if the enemy wants to carry out a foolish act against our people and our holy places, we shall crush its army so that [this army] no longer exists." Sinwar remarked that "if [Deif] said this, he knew what he was taking about."[2]

Similar threats were made by Hamas's leader abroad, Maher Salah, at an October 20, 2017 conference in Istanbul: "I say to Netanyahu, don't bother, your state will cease to exist. Your kingdom will be destroyed and I promise you that you will never celebrate the centenary [of its founding]... We are resisting the Zionist enterprise day and night, waging broad and comprehensive resistance from inside and outside [the country]. The resistance in Gaza has doubled its abilities since the end of the war in 2014. It is preparing for any round [of fighting] the occupation might launch and will teach it a painful lesson. The West Bank is now reawakening, and it will resist the occupation with all its might, despite the paucity of resources. It surprises us every day with inventive new [ways of] resistance..."

Salah added: "I tell you that some of those present here will witness the conquest of Jerusalem and the liberation of Al-Aqsa, and will perhaps even pray there... Palestine, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa unite the nation and it is the nation's duty to liberate them. We are the spearhead of the blessed jihad program... Whoever thinks Hamas and the Palestinian people will give up their resistance is deluding himself... Resistance is part of Hamas's name... As long as the occupation exists there must be resistance and jihad – until victory, liberation and the return to the homeland are achieved."[3]


Maher Salah speaking in Istanbul (image: Palinfo.com, October 21, 2017)

"The Weapons Of The Resistance Are Sacred And Honorable, And Will Be Used Against The Enemy"

Hamas's leaders stressed that the issue of disarming Hamas would not be discussed as part of the reconciliation with Fatah, and that its weapons are intended for use against Israel. In his meeting with teens in Gaza, Sinwar said: "Disarming Hamas is a false hope, like Satan dreaming of entering Paradise. We are gaining strength and amassing weapons day and night. If President 'Abbas wants to rely on our military strength in his negotiations with Israel, we are willing to support him. This way he will achieve much more and optimize the standing of the Palestinian cause."[4]

Salah Al-'Arouri, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, said following a meeting with Iranian representatives in Tehran: "Hamas will not give up the option of defending the Palestinian people. The reconciliation with Fatah will not affect the weapons of the Palestinian resistance... We have positions of our own. We believe we must set aside our differences [with Fatah], but we will not relinquish our position that favors resistance against the Zionist entity... There is no doubt that the resistance always holds on to its weapons and will never throw them down."[5]

Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouq said in an interview with the London-based Qatari daily Al-Arabi Al-Jadid that the matter of Hamas's arms has not and will not be discussed: "Resisting the occupation is the legitimate right of the Palestinian people, and Hamas will never give up this option, under any circumstances. As long as the occupation exists, there must be resistance... No power in the world will keep the Palestinian people from resisting the occupation and from choosing this option, until it regains all its rights."[6]

Hamas political bureau member Rawhi Mushtaha, drew a distinction between the function of Hamas's weapons and the function of the PA's weapons, saying: "As long as the occupation exists, the weapons of the resistance are clearly legitimate and nobody should debate this, not even international institutions. The weapons of the resistance are sacred and honorable, and will be used against the enemy... The PA weapons are intended to protect the security, the lives and the property of the people, just like in any society, and there is no contradiction between the two kinds of weapons. When there is an independent [Palestinian] state, we will naturally have one government, one administration and one armed [military force]... Everyone knows that the Palestinian people have a right to use arms against the enemy."[7]

Rapprochement Between Hamas And Iran, Mutual Praises On Commitment To Resistance

The Hamas leaders' extremist statements in praise of armed resistance against Israel were accompanied by statements in favor of restoring the movement's ties with Iran. Sinwar said in this context: "Whoever thinks we will sever our ties with any country is deluding himself, for Iran is the greatest supporter of the ['Izz Al-Din] Al-Qassam Brigades."[8] The rapprochement between the sides was indeed reflected by the Hamas delegation's visit to Iran on October 20. The delegation was headed by Salah Al-'Arouri and included senior Hamas officials 'Izzat Al-Rishq, Muhammad Nasser, Zaher Jabarin, Osama Hamdan, Sami Abu Zuhri and Khaled Al-Qaddoumi. The delegates met with Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani and with Supreme Leader Khamenei's advisor for international affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati.[9]


Salah Al-'Arouri (left) with Ali Larijani in Tehran (image: alalam.ir, October 21, 2017)

Addressing the purpose of the visit, Hamas delegation head Salah Al-'Arouri described it as "the practical response to the demand that Hamas sever its relations with Iran."[10] Another delegation member, Sami Abu Zuhri, said: "The disagreements between Hamas and Iran are a thing of the past and the relations between them are back on track... The visit in Iran expresses the movement's wish to maintain relations with [this country] and to strengthen the resistance program."[11] Hamas member Taher Al-Nounou said: "Hamas wants tight relations with Iran and it will never give up its friends and allies. We have come a long way in strengthening our strategic relations with Iran."[12]

Iran, for its part, expressed appreciation for Hamas's commitment to armed resistance. Khamenei's advisor Velayati said: "We congratulate you on your declared position of refusal to give up your weapons, which is a red line for you. The Palestinian problem is the most important cause of the Muslim nation, and although much time has passed and some leaders in the region have made compromises, you remain committed to the principle of resisting the Zionists, and despite all the pressures you continue to uphold this [principle]. The Palestinian resistance will eventually triumph." [13] He added: "We take every opportunity to meet with our comrades in the resistance camp and especially with Hamas, and we praise the position of this movement, which refused to give up its weapons of resistance."[14]

 


[1] Amad.ps, October 19, 2017.

[2] Amad.ps, October 19, 2017.

[3] Palinfo.com, October 21, 2017.

[4] Amad.ps, October 19, 2017.

[5] Palinfo.com, October 21, 2017.

[6] Al-Arabi Al-Jadid (London), October 19, 2017.

[7] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), October 15, 2017.

[8] Amad.ps, October 19, 2017.

[9] Palinfo.com, October 21, 2017.

[10] Samanews.ps, October 21, 2017.

[11] Almayadeen.net, October 21, 2017.

[12] Almanar.com, October 21, 2017.

[13] Palinfo.com, October 21, 2017.

[14] Amad.ps, October 21, 2017.