Saleh al-Arouri .
(photo credit: ARAB MEDIA)
A high-ranking Hamas delegation arrived in Tehran over the weekend to participate in a memorial service for the father of Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, a Hamas-linked media outlet reported on Sunday.
Suleimani’s father, Hassan, died last Tuesday in the southern Iranian city Kerman.
The Hamas delegation includes Deputy Politburo Chief Saleh al-Arouri, Politburo member Izzat al-Rishq and other senior officials, the Gaza-based al-Risala reported.
Hamas and Iran have historically maintained close relations, but after Hamas refused to support Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2011 when a civil war broke out in Syria, ties between Hamas and Iran were believed to have soured.
Over the past several months, however, relations between Hamas and Iran seem to have improved; senior Hamas delegations visited Iran
in August and October.
Following the October visit, Arouri said Iran pledged to continue its support for “the resistance,” an apparent reference to Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, and other armed factions.
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s Gaza chief, told a group of journalists in late August that his movement’s ties with Iran “were and still are good,” and noted that Iran had become the largest sponsor of the Kassam Brigades.
Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai reacted on Monday to the Hamas delegation’s visit, accusing the Islamist movement of selling the Sunni-majority Gaza to the Shi’ite-majority Iran.
“Hamas is selling Gaza’s Sunni residents in exchange for Persian money,” he said, playing on intra-Muslim conflicts.