Hamas supporters remain divided over movement’s links with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard

Opponents of the rapprochement with Iran pointed to its military interference in the civil wars in Arab countries, arguing that the hands of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, were stained with the blood of many Arabs and Muslims.

Hamas Gaza political bureau head Yahya Sinwar. (MEMRI)
Hamas Gaza political bureau head Yahya Sinwar. (MEMRI)

Iranian media and media affiliated with the resistance axis reported on Dec. 11, 2017 that Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds (Jerusalem) Force, had spoken on the phone with commanders of the military wings of both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, telling them that all the resistance movements in the region were ready to defend Al-Aqsa mosque.

Two days later, the Kuwaiti Al-Jarida newspaper, known for its anti-Iran positions, reported that in the conversation Soleimani had asked the Hamas and Islamic Jihad military leaders to recruit activists in the West Bank, and had promised to provide the organizations with weapons so that they could launch armed activity against Israel from there.

According to the report, Soleimani said that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was giving top priority to this struggle, and that U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel had prepared the ground for the resistance struggle against Israel.[2]

In a Dec. 25, 2017 speech in Gaza, Hamas Gaza political bureau head Yahya Al-Sinwar said that Soleimani had “contacted [Hamas’s Izz Al-Din] Al-Qassam [Brigades] and [Islamic Jihad’s] Al-Quds Brigades,” and stressed that “Iran, the IRGC and [its] Quds Force stand, with all their capabilities, alongside our people, in defense of Jerusalem, and in order to keep Jerusalem the capital of the State of Palestine.”

Al-Sinwar added that Soleimani had said clearly: “We place all our capabilities at your disposal in the battle for the defense of Jerusalem. He did not ask, set conditions, or encourage us to employ any specific type of resistance.”

Al-Sinwar’s statements reflect the policy of the new Hamas leadership, elected in the first half of 2017, that strives to rehabilitate and rebuild relations with Iran after they were undermined because of divergent positions in the Syria crisis.

Apparently, however, journalists and activists known to be Hamas sympathizers and affiliates are sharply divided over this new direction and Al-Sinwar’s fulsome praise for Soleimani, with arguments among Hamas supporters on social media and in online newspapers.

Opponents of the rapprochement with Iran pointed to its military interference in the civil wars in Arab countries and argued that the hands of Soleimani, a murderer and war criminal, were stained with the blood of many Arabs and Muslims. Likewise, they questioned the leadership capabilities and political judgment of Al-Sinwar because he favors this rapprochement.

In contrast, supporters of the rapprochement with Iran and the IRGC argued that Iran and Hamas had shared interests, and that Iran had proven itself during hard times as the Palestinians’ best supporter and friend, providing weapons and support, and that it could be relied on, particularly since the Arab countries had turned their backs on Hamas and it needed allies.

Some also stressed that the existence of a Hamas-Iran relationship did not necessarily mean that Hamas supported Iran’s policy in the region.

This report will present the dispute that emerged on social media and in online newspapers following Al-Sinwar’s announcement that Iran and the IRGC support Hamas.

The Dispute on social media

On Dec. 26, 2017, the day after Al-Sinwar’s speech, Dr. Ibrahim Hamami, a Palestinian journalist residing in London who has previously published articles on Hamas-affiliated websites, tweeted in response to Al-Sinwar’s statements: “Does Mr. Al-Sinwar, who claims that Soleimani loves Palestine, know how many Muslims and Arabs this criminal has murdered since 2012 in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon? Palestine will never be liberated by people like the criminal Soleimani. We say: Palestine loathes, hates and curses Soleimani, and may we earn the right to see Allah do justice unto him. [Oh Al-Sinwar], if only you would shut up!”

Jordan-based Palestinian journalist Yasser Al-Za’atreh, who is close to the Muslim Brotherhood and was once editor of the Hamas mouthpiece Filastin Al-Muslima, tweeted: “Al-Sinwar’s praise for Soleimani has angered most of the [Arab] ummah. [Soleimani] is a criminal, and [even] if he liberates Jerusalem it will not suffice to cleanse his hands that are stained with the blood of the Syrians. This is in addition to his crimes in Iraq and Yemen and to his well-known sectarian [Shi’ite] fantasies. Thus, this miserable [praise for Soleimani] must stop in order [for Al-Sinwar] to preserve [his] credibility.”

Pro-Hamas Al-Jazeera correspondent Majed Abd Al-Hadi tweeted: “What does it help Yahya Al-Sinwar if he wins [the sympathy of] Qassem Soleimani but loses himself? How does he dare to purify the Iranian hands that are stained with the blood of the Syrians and the Iraqis without fearing that [by doing so he] will stain himself, and Hamas as well?”

To continue reading the full MEMRI report click here.

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