Hamas holds memorial tribute for Soleimani in Gaza

On the second anniversary of the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was killed Jan. 3, 2020, near Baghdad International Airport by a US drone, Hamas participated in a commemoration ceremony that the Palestinian Committee held on International Quds Day in Gaza City. Speaking on behalf of Hamas, head of its politburo Ismail Haniyeh had referred to as Soleimani the “martyr of Jerusalem” throughout the motion’s participation in his funeral procession in Tehran Jan. 6, 2020.

On Jan. 3, Hamas politburo member Mahmoud al-Zahar mentioned in his speech on behalf of the Palestinian factions throughout Soleimani’s commemoration ceremony, “Qasem Soleimani did not differentiate between the separate Islamic sects. He was the first to fund the resistance government formed after the 2006 elections to pay the salaries of its employees, aid poor families and back the resistance programs.”

In an interview on the Qatari Al-Jazeera channel Jan. 2, Haniyeh confirmed that “Iran was the main funder for the plan of defense for Gaza after the 2009 war to build the resistance bases including missiles, tunnels and anti-armors. The plan funds amounted to a lump sum of $70 million and significantly shifted the resistance potential, which appeared in the 2012 war. For the first time, Hamas managed to strike Tel Aviv with a 75-km range missile in reaction to Israel’s assassination of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades leader in Gaza Ahmed al-Jabari.”

The roots of relations between Hamas and Iran date again to 1990 when a Hamas delegation visited Iran three years after the founding of Hamas on the finish of 1987. Following the go to, a diplomatic illustration workplace for Hamas was opened in Iran in 1992, constituting an Iranian recognition of Hamas’ central position in Palestine.

Israel’s shunning of lots of of Hamas leaders to southern Lebanon in 1992 was an necessary milestone in strengthening relations between Hamas and the IRGC, when Soleimani visited the camps of dismissed Hamas leaders in Marj al-Zohour. Ties with Hezbollah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon, had been additionally cemented. After relations between Hamas and Iran had been strengthened, Iran supplied political and monetary assist and navy manufacture expertise, along with navy coaching for Hamas fighters.

However, the primary milestone within the relationship between Hamas and Iran was Hamas’ victory within the 2006 legislative elections, which led to a rise within the significance and centrality of the motion to Iran, which doubled its monetary assist for Hamas and promised it $50 million.

After the motion’s victory within the elections, Israel and its Western allies imposed political and financial sanctions on the Hamas authorities. Then, within the wake of Hamas’ elimination of Fatah’s presence in Gaza in 2007, Israel and Egypt tightened their siege on the Gaza Strip. However, the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood headed by Mohammed Morsi to energy in Egypt resulted in opening the Rafah crossing and lowering financial strain on the motion. On the opposite hand, the worldwide and regional boycott of the Hamas authorities performed a key position in pushing the motion towards nearer relations with Iran.

Hamas’ exit from Syria, the motion’s headquarters, in 2012 after its refusal to intrude within the Syrian developments and its siding with the Syrian revolution lowered Iranian assist for it. Yet Hamas’ persistence within the 2012 struggle led to the resumption of navy assist for the motion, though this assist was restricted to its navy wing and didn’t contain funding its political management.

On the opposite hand, Egypt and the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, performed a task in maintaining Hamas away from Iran by encouraging Hamas to depart Syria and pushing for Palestinian reconciliation to incorporate Hamas on the Sunni axis versus the Iranian Shiite axis. However, these nations didn’t present a political, monetary or navy various that might encourage Hamas to let go of its ties with Iran. Rather, they pressured Hamas after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 2013, and Saudi Arabia tightened the grip on Hamas by arresting 60 of its members. UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan referred to as on Western nations to categorise Hamas as a terrorist motion.

Iyad al-Qarra, author and political analyst from Gaza who has shut ties with Hamas, informed Al-Monitor, “Hamas chose to commemorate the second anniversary of Qasem Soleimani’s martyrdom in Gaza as part of its overt loyalty to Iran, which is under regional and international pressure in the nuclear file. Iran is the only support of Hamas on the military front.”

He added, “Hamas’ praise of Iranian support at the military level indicates the strategic relationship between Hamas and Iran. It is also a message for Iran that Hamas is on its side in light of the continuous Israeli threats to wage war against Iran over the nuclear file. Therefore, Iranian military and financial support for Hamas will continue.”

Hassan Abdo, author and political analyst from Gaza who’s near the Islamic Jihad motion, informed Al-Monitor, “Haniyeh’s statements on Al-Jazeera television about Iran’s military and financial support for Hamas showed that his stance represents Hamas as a whole. This came after Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas’ diaspora office, visited Lebanon on Dec. 15, and the decision of Hezbollah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon, to boycott Meshaal due to Hamas leadership’s retreat from Syria and the transfer of the Hamas leadership office to Doha during Meshaal’s leadership of the Hamas political bureau from 1996 to 2017, and his declaration of alignment with the Syrian revolution, which opposes the regime of Bashar al-Assad, an ally of the Lebanese Hezbollah.”

Mukhaimar Abu Saada, professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, informed Al-Monitor, “Hamas and political Islam in the Arab region are in a state of persecution, and there are serious attempts to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is a part, and therefore Hamas has no choice but to align with Iran.”

He believes that Hamas’ public declaration of Iranian monetary and navy assist will delay the state of estrangement between Hamas and the Arab regimes opposing Iran, corresponding to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which think about Iran a serious risk to their existence. This can even delay the disaster, because the remaining Arab nations, corresponding to Qatar and Oman, have opted for impartiality. The nations that may have the worst relations with Hamas are Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt to some extent, as Egypt and Hamas have widespread curiosity in sustaining the soundness of the state of affairs within the Sinai Peninsula from armed teams.

He added, “On the other hand, the Palestinian rift will perpetuate because the [Palestinian Authority] has sided with the Sunni axis — Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt — and Hamas chose the axis of resistance with Iran and Hezbollah.”

Talal Okal, author and political analyst from Gaza, informed Al-Monitor, “Throughout the history of the Palestinian revolution, the Palestinian people have had friends who worked to support the Palestinian resistance financially and militarily, and some of them [were] martyred while resisting the Israeli occupation. But raising the issue of Hamas’ declaration of Soleimani’s support for the Palestinian resistance stems from the Arab-Iranian differences, despite Hamas’ assertion that it is a Palestinian resistance movement that does not interfere in Arab affairs.”

He referred to Hamas’ makes an attempt to rebuild relations with Arab nations. However, the prospects usually are not promising, given their resentment of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Hamas is a part of.

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