A file photo from 2012 of a banner that reads "Thanks and gratitude to Iran" in Gaza City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar on Saturday called on Iran to restore its relations with his movement.
Zahar’s appeal came in a statement marking the 28th anniversary of the founding of Hamas.
Thousands of Palestinians participated in rallies that were held in the Gaza Strip over the weekend on this occasion.
Relations between the two sides have been tense since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011. Hamas’s refusal to support the regime of President Bashar Assad, Iran’s major ally in the region, has angered Tehran, prompting it to cut off its financial and military aid to the Gaza-based movement.
“We call on the brothers in Iran to pave the way for restoring their strong ties with the Palestinian resistance, specifically Hamas,” the Iranian news agency Fars quoted Zahar as saying.
He stressed that Hamas was seeking to restore and develop its ties with Iran. “Hamas hasn’t been part of the coalitions that have emerged in regional conflicts and crises,” Zahar pointed out.
He noted that his appeal was not linked to the current wave of terrorist attacks against Israel or any other event.
Zahar criticized the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah faction for “failing to support the Al-Quds Intifada.”
He appealed to the PA security forces in the West Bank to participate in the attacks against Israel.
“Those who belong to their people, homeland and desecrated holy sites should use their weapons and take part in the confrontations in the West Bank and Jerusalem,” the Hamas leader said.
Failure to do so would be tantamount to treason, he added.
Another Hamas leader, Fathi Hammad, announced at one of the rallies that Hamas was stronger than ever.
“The celebrations marking the founding of Hamas underscore the continuation of our jihad and our march toward liberating all of Palestine,” Hammad said.
Khalil al-Hayeh, another top Hamas official, announced that his movement was “determined to liberate Palestine and expel the Israeli occupation.” He urged Egypt and Jordan to shut the Israeli embassies in Cairo and Amman in solidarity with the Palestinian issue and the “Al-Quds Intifada.”