Senior members of the terrorist organization Hamas met on Monday with representatives of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Tehran, and agreed to forge closer ties with the military force under direct supervision of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The delegation was in the Islamic Republic to attend the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as part of a broader strategy to “turn a new page in bilateral relations” between Iran and the terror organization, according to a statement by Hamas, The Times of Israel reported. Saudi-based media sources reported that members of Hamas, which are in control of the group’s military activities, also met with representatives of the IRGC and discussed “common issues.”
This is the first time that senior Hamas members visited Iran since the election of a new leadership in 2017. Having broken off relations with Hamas in the summer of 2015, after the group’s refusal to support Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and their links to Saudi Arabia, Iran appeared in May to be signaling a renewal of funding to the group. This renewed commitment came at the same time that Hamas elected Ismail Haniyeh as replacement for Khaled Mashaal as the group’s political chief over rival Moussa Mohammed Abu Marzook, with whom Tehran had a much cooler relationship.
Hamas is under pressure to strengthen ties with the Islamic Republic after its main backer Qatar came under fire from other Gulf states and Saudi Arabia for its terror sponsorship, putting into question the emirate’s financial support for its terror proxy in Gaza. Iran has previously supported Hamas significantly due to their common enemy in Israel. In March 2016, the commander of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani, was reported by a Hamas member to have said that “Iran was a staunch supporter of the Palestinian resistance before the nuclear deal and it will remain so after the deal.”It is unclear at this stage what the renewed support for Hamas will look like. Historically, the support involved not just cash and military training, but also the transfer of firearms to Hamas and even advanced missile technology in the form of the Fajr-5 missile, handed over in 2012. Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the IDF’s intelligence chief, said in June that Iran is currently giving Hamas $50 million per year.
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