In his first meeting with journalists since his appointment in February, Yahya Sinwar, claimed that Iran is now “the largest backer financially and militarily” of Hamas’s armed wing. The Gaza leader emphasised: “The Iranian military support to Hamas and al-Qassam is strategic”, saying the relationship had “become fantastic and returned to its former era”.
Sinwar said that with Iran’s help, Hamas is “developing our military strength in order to liberate Palestine”.
“Every day we build missiles and continue military training” he added, saying that thousands of people are working “day and night” to prepare for the next conflict.
Iran has historically been Hamas’s largest supporter, but relations deteriorated when the terror group refused to back Iran’s close ally Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s civil war.
Earlier this month, a high-level Hamas delegation travelled to Iran to attend the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani, and to “turn a new page in bilateral relations” between the two sides.
It was the first visit to Iran by Hamas officials since the group elected new leadership earlier in 2017. The rapprochement between Hamas and Iran is reportedly being facilitated by the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which is supported by Tehran.
Commentators believe that Iran has been keen to restore ties with Hamas after Ismail Haniyeh was elected as head of Hamas’s political bureau and Sinwar as the group’s Gaza chief. Both are considered to be more open to reconciliation with Iran than was Khaled Mashaal, the former political leader of Hamas.
The rapprochement with Iran comes at a crucial time for the Gaza-based terror group, since its major recent financial backer, Qatar, is under fire from Gulf allies for supporting it.