Top Hamas official visits Tehran
TEHRAN - Agence France-Presse
Senior Hamas official Mahmud Zahar (C is greeted by crowds after leaving the Al-Azhar grand mosque following a speech by Hamas's Gaza premier Ismail Haniya in Cairo on February 24, 2012. AFP photoA senior Hamas figure in Gaza, Mahmud Zahar, is visiting Tehran for meetings with top Iranian officials, media here reported on Thursday.
Zahar's trip was taking place shortly after Gaza militants and Israel agreed a fragile truce that ended four days of deadly cross-border violence.
Zahar, who serves as Hamas's foreign minister, met the head of Iran's supreme national security council, Saeed Jalili, and the leader of Iran's parliament, Ali Larijani, late on Wednesday, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Jalili reiterated Iran's unwavering support for the Palestinian cause, and cautioned Zahar against "plots" seeking to divide the Palestinian resistance, the report said.
Zahar was quoted as saying that "the principles and strategy of the Palestinian Islamic resistance will not change." Zahar's visit to Tehran followed one by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh last month, who on February 11 shared the podium with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to commemorate the anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Israel and the United States consider Hamas to be an armed proxy of Iran able to strike Israel with Iranian-supplied rockets should the Islamic republic be threatened militarily.
Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday branded Gaza an "advance post for Iran," which he explicitly accused of arming, financing and training militants in the Palestinian enclave.
However Ahmed Yussef, a counsellor to the Hamas foreign ministry, earlier this month told AFP that "Iran does not need Hamas to respond to Israel in the event of an attack, because it has enormous military capabilities at its disposal, which allow it to act without us."