Iran's president speaks to Hamas, Islamic jihad leaders: State media

AFP , Sunday 8 Oct 2023

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi spoke Sunday with leaders of Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, official media said, a day after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel.

anti-Israel billboard in Tehran
Iranians drive past an anti-Israel billboard with the chequered keffiye covering the Star of David, entitled Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, installed in solidarity with the Palestinians in Tehran s central Vali-Asr square on October 8, 2023. AFP


"Raisi discussed the developments in Palestine in separate phone calls with Ziyad al-Nakhalah, secretary general of the Islamic Jihad Movement, and Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the (Hamas) political bureau," state news agency IRNA reported, without giving further details.

Militants from Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, penetrated Israel at dawn on Saturday under cover of a massive rocket barrage.

Israel's government said the worst fighting in decades has killed more than 600 Israelis and that Hamas captured more than 100 soldiers and settlers.

On the Gaza side, at least 313 were reported dead, and 1990 wounded.

Iran hailed the Palestinian attack calling it a "proud operation" and a "great victory".

"This victorious operation, which will facilitate and accelerate the collapse of the Zionist regime, promises the impending destruction of the Zionist regime," said Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"I am congratulating this great and strategic victory, which is a serious warning to all compromisers in the region," he added in a letter to Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Saturday.

The Islamic Republic hosted talks with leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in June.

At the time, Raisi said that Israel was seeking to normalize ties with more Arab and Muslim countries "to discourage young Palestinians from (seeking to) liberate the occupied territories", according to the Iranian presidency.

On Saturday, hundreds gathered in major cities in Iran, including in Tehran's Palestine Square, carrying the Palestinian flag and pictures of slain General Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a US drone attack in Baghdad in 2020 after overseeing the Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations for more than a decade.

Large billboards celebrating the "Al-Aqsa Flood" operation were installed in Tehran including one that says "The great liberation operation has begun".

Crowds in some cities set off fireworks and torched Israeli flags while others carrying the Palestinian colors took to the streets while motorists honked their honks in jubilation, according to footage carried by the official IRNA news agency.

Iran does not recognize Israel and has made support for the Palestinian cause a centerpiece of its foreign policy ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The two governments have engaged in a shadow war for years, with Iran accusing Israel of a series of sabotage attacks and assassinations targeting its nuclear programme.

The United States and Israel have previously accused Iran of using drones and missiles to attack US forces and Israel-linked ships in the Gulf.

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