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April 21, 2022 11:48 am

Hamas Thanks Moscow for Denouncing Israel, Calls for ‘Central’ Russian Role on Jerusalem Tensions

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Palestinian group Hamas’ top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, gestures as he speaks during his visit at Ain el Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon September 6, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Hamas’ political chief Ismail Haniyeh applauded Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for his “rejection” of Israeli actions on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, where clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli police continued on Thursday, hours after rocket fire from Gaza prompted IDF strikes against the Palestinian terror group.

In a phone call between the two officials, Haniyeh “expressed his appreciation for the Russian position in support of Palestinian rights and rejection of the ongoing Israeli steps in Al-Aqsa mosque,” according to the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news agency.

Haniyeh called for a “central Russian role in curbing this aggression” by Israel, while Lavrov was quoted as denouncing Israel’s use of “excessive force” against Palestinians.

“Our position is firm on the issue. We have always been on the side of the Palestinian people in their right to self-determination and their right to establish their Palestinian state,” Lavrov said, according to Shehab.

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Russian leader Vladimir Putin last week condemned Israel’s actions in Jerusalem during a call to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who for his part declared support for the Kremlin’s stance on its war in Ukraine.

Lavrov’s outreach to Haniyeh came amid continued tensions in Jerusalem, and after rocket fire from the Gaza Strip provoked Israeli air strikes on Hamas terror targets in the enclave.

Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Thursday he had spoken with local leaders in Israel’s south and reinforced defenses in the sector.

“The policy of a severe response against any terrorist activity will continue,” Gantz said. “I told them that Israel was prepared to make whatever move was necessary to keep its citizens safe in attack and defense.”

Hamas said in a statement that the Israeli strikes would merely encourage Palestinians to “resist the occupation and step up their support for Jerusalem and its people.”

Meanwhile, Thursday saw new clashes on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Israeli police said, after dozens of rioters “disturbed the peace with severe violence.”

“Earlier this morning, they entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque, closed its doors and continued to disturb the peace and riot, by throwing rocks and using fireworks, desecrating the mosque, where they are barricading themselves at this time,” an Israel Police spokesperson said. “The Israel Police will continue to allow freedom of worship and take resolute action against rioters and violent lawbreakers wherever they are.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met Thursday with US State Department officials in Israel to discuss the situation in Jerusalem, which have raised fears of a new round of conflict with the Hamas terror group.

“Israel will maintain and will continue to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount in the future and we have no intention of changing it,” Lapid said. “We will not accept any missile fire from the Gaza Strip on the State of Israel. Hamas and the whole world need to know that Israel will act and do whatever it takes to protect the security of its citizens.”

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