A delegation of officials from Hamas – the Iranian-backed terrorist organization that runs the Gaza Strip – met with the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in his Beirut office.
The meeting represents ongoing efforts by the two terrorist organizations to establish an impression of unity following a conflict between Israel and the PIJ in Gaza in early August. During the operation – which lasted just three days – Hamas stayed out of the action as Islamic Jihad fired rockets at Israel, a move that has increased tensions between the two organizations.
Gaza-based political analyst Talal Okal told The New Arab that the meetings were “very important for the movements … to put an end to the Israeli propaganda that it succeeded in dividing them.”
“Both of them [Hamas and the Islamic Jihad] have their reasons during the latest Israeli assault,” Okal said. “We can say both of them were right and wrong at the same time. However, we cannot deny that Hamas’ non-participation in the military battle was the result of a fundamental disagreement with Islamic Jihad regarding the situation in the Gaza Strip.”
The Hamas delegation to Beirut later met with Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who met with the PIJ leader a few days prior.
Deputy head of the Hamas politburo, Saleh al-Arouri, led the delegation which included politburo members Zaher Jabarin and Khalil al-Hayya. Islamic Jihad Sec.-Gen. Ziyad al-Nakhalah was flanked by Akram al-Ajouri and Abdel Aziz Minawi, both members of PIJ’s politburo.
Adding to that tension, a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket accidentally killed a Hamas terrorist during the confrontation. On Aug. 7, an Islamic Jihad rocket killed Yasser Nimr Al-Nabahin, reportedly an off-duty “Hamas-affiliated” police officer, and his three children, when it landed on his house. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed that a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket had been responsible for their deaths.
After the meeting with the Islamic Jihad representatives, Hamas released a statement saying that they had agreed that “any disagreement over a tactical approach would never affect their long-standing and strategic relationship.”
The two groups stated agreeing that to “liberate Palestine and Palestinian holy sites,” cooperation and relations within the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would be strengthened in “a way that serves the Palestinian people.”
Furthermore, the two groups said that they would form a new “National Council” in order to reach “true Palestinian unity.”
They also discussed the latest developments in the Middle East and thanked Iran, their greatest benefactor, and the Iranian proxy terrorist organization Hezbollah for “supporting Palestinian resistance.”
The meeting in Beirut on Friday was not the groups’ first attempt at painting a picture of a united front. On Aug. 22, the Islamic Jihad and Hamas held their first meeting since Operation Breaking Dawn in the Gaza Strip, concluding it with a press statement meant to convey that the two groups are close brothers-in-arms against Israel, especially in the case of any new Israeli operations in Gaza.
“The armed resistance is our choice to defend our people and the members of the armed resistance against all the Israeli assaults,” the statement said.
Khadir Habiba, a senior PIJ leader who participated in the Aug. 22 meeting, said it had been “positive and important” and that the two groups had agreed to strengthen ties to fight Israel’s “violations against the Palestinians.”
“There is no retreat, no hesitation, and it will continue under high coordination between the two movements and all other factions,” Habiba told The New Arab, adding that “our response will be firm, decisive and united.”