The new leader of the terrorist organization Hamas in Gaza said on Monday that the group has successfully reset ties with Iran after a five-year rift, using the newfound assistance for “rebuilding and accumulating” its military infrastructure to “liberate Palestine” from Israel.
“Thousands of people work every day to make rockets, (dig) tunnels and train frogmen,” Yehiyeh Sinwar said. “The relationship with Iran is in this context,” he added.
The Associated Press reported that, in his briefing with journalists, the Hamas leader would not reveal how much financial assistance the terrorist group receives from the Islamic Republic. But in June 2017, the intelligence chief of the Israel Defense Forces, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, detailed how Iran contributes $50 million to Hamas’ annual budget, while bankrolling Hezbollah with $75 million and funding Palestinian Islamic Jihad with an additional $70 million.
Hamas and Iran fell out after the group refused to back Syrian regime President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, a key ally of the Islamic Republic. But Sinwar said ties now have been restored and are stronger than ever. “Today, the relationship with Iran is excellent, or very excellent,” Sinwar stated. He added that Iran is “the largest backer financially and militarily” to Hamas.
It was the first time the Hamas leader met with reporters, a man known for his hardline stance toward Israel, who spent two decades in an Israeli prison for masterminding the abduction and killing of two Israeli soldiers.
Sinwar made his comments at the time the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres heads to the West Bank on Tuesday and a visit to Gaza is scheduled for Wednesday. Guterres is not meeting with Hamas.
On Monday, Guterres also met with Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, commander of COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs. Mordechai blamed Hamas, the group in complete political and military control of Gaza, for the poor conditions in the Strip.
“The terror organization Hamas does not hesitate at all and repeatedly exploits the Gaza residents by attempting to take advantage of Israel’s assistance, despite the severe civil hardships in the strip,” Mordechai said.
[Photo: Wochit News / YouTube]