Hamas leader welcomes Turkish support for Palestine amid Gaza war

Hamas Political Bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday praised Türkiye’s support for the Palestinian cause amid Israel’s brutal war against the Gaza Strip.

“President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comments earlier this week in which he described Hamas as a national liberation movement and compared it to the Kuva-i Milliye (Turkish National Armed Forces) are undoubtedly a source of pride for us and the Palestinian people,” he said. Haniyeh. Anadolu Agency (AA) in an interview.

Haniyeh was in Istanbul to meet with Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, to discuss the Israeli attacks on Gaza, the plight of Palestinians in the blockaded enclave, which has only worsened over the past six months under the Israeli airstrikes, and delivery of humanitarian aid and ceasefire negotiations with Israel.

Erdoğan said Palestinian unity was “vital” after the talks at the Dolmabahçe Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus, which lasted more than two and a half hours, according to Turkish media.

“The strongest response to Israel and the path to victory lies in unity and integrity,” Erdoğan said in a statement from the Turkish presidency.

Erdoğan’s government, which has sharply criticized Israel and accused the country of committing “genocide” in Gaza, has ties with Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. Unlike some European countries and the United States, Türkiye does not classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.

After the meeting, Haniyeh praised Erdoğan’s comments earlier this week during a parliamentary meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party), where he vowed to defend the Palestinian cause “against all odds” and compared Hamas’s struggle to the Turkish War of Independence. A hundred years ago, fighting took place by the Kuva-i Milliye, the irregular National Armed Forces formed after the occupation of parts of Türkiye.

“We absolutely know that saying this will come at a price,” Erdoğan had said.

Likewise, Haniyeh said Hamas is “a movement that opposes the liberation of our lands, sacred values ​​and people from historical occupation.”

Haniyeh emphasized Türkiye’s historical ties to the Palestinian cause due to his “regional and Islamic position” and said Erdoğan’s comments reflect the conscience of the Turkish people, “who consider the Palestinian cause as their own, empathize with Gaza from a humanitarian perspective and opposes oppression.”

Haniyeh further said that the group conveyed to Erdoğan its emphasis on the fact that the Palestinian people are facing genocide, as well as ongoing ceasefire negotiations, including Hamas’ demands for “a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the complete withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip, the return of displaced persons to their homes, reconstruction, lifting of the blockade and reaching a prisoner exchange agreement.”

He underlined the need to join efforts to stop the attacks by the Zionists, “who remain behind the support of the US.”

Haniyeh also praised the intellectual, historical and political attitude of the Turkish people towards the Palestinian cause.

“We still remember that during his speech at the UN, President Erdogan lifted up the map of Palestine and explained how Palestine was gradually occupied in response to Shimon Peres,” he said. “We are closely monitoring Türkiye’s position in the region, his regional and international policies and his position on the Palestinian cause and Gaza, which are of great importance.”

“We still remember how the Turkish people sacrificed martyrs on the Mavi Marmara for lifting the blockade in Gaza,” Haniyeh said, referring to a deadly attack by Israeli forces on a Turkish aid ship in 2010 in which they killed 10 civilian activists. trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

“During our meeting with Erdoğan, we discussed the decisions taken regarding commercial restrictions on Israel and their effects on commercial activities,” Haniyeh continued.

Earlier this month, Türkiye restricted the export of certain products to Israel until it implemented a ceasefire and allowed a “sufficient and uninterrupted flow” of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

“This is an important step against Zionist enemies who shed the blood of women, children and elderly Palestinians in attacks on Gaza, threaten Rafah with land attacks and disrespect Islamic holy sites, especially the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem,” Haniyed added.

‘American protection against Israeli massacres’

Haniyeh also condemned US support for Israel and Washington’s veto of the creation of a Palestinian state in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which he said “effectively provides political protection for Tel Aviv’s actions.”

“The US position is deceptive; Although it says it does not want to harm civilians, this is an attempt at manipulation,” Haniyeh said.

“All the civilians killed in Gaza, thousands, tens of thousands of martyrs, were killed with American weapons, with American missiles, under American political protection. What does the US veto of the ceasefire resolution at the UN Security Council mean? It means that the US is giving full protection and shelter to the continued massacres and killings against Gaza.”

He added that the US veto on full UN membership for Palestine shows that Washington has embraced the Israeli position and opposes the rights of the Palestinian people.

Haniyeh further warned of a possible military operation by the Israeli army in Rafah, saying it could lead to a massacre against the Palestinian people.

“I call on all brotherly countries, our brothers in Egypt, our brothers in Türkiye, our brothers in Qatar as mediators and the European countries to take action to curb (Israeli) aggression and prevent the Rafah operation, as well as the complete withdrawal (of the Israeli army) from the Gaza Strip and an end to attacks on Gaza,” he said.

Ceasefire negotiations

Stressing that despite all negotiations, Israel has not accepted a ceasefire in Gaza as dozens of proposals have been submitted through mediators, Haniyeh said: “All the country wants is to take back the prisoners and then resume the war in Gaza. It is not possible for the Israeli army to completely withdraw from Gaza. Israel also does not want the displaced people to return to northern Gaza. It’s unacceptable.

He emphasized that Israel has proposed a small number of people for a prisoner swap, despite having arrested nearly 14,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza since October 7.

“It is Israel and the US that are not putting any pressure (on Israel), and that is preventing an agreement from being reached. Once Israel accepts these demands, we will be ready to reach the agreement,” he added.

Haniyeh also denounced Israel’s “uncompromising attitude” and attributed the failure and interruption of the talks to this attitude.

He said that during the meeting with Erdoğan, Hamas was informed about Ankara’s political and diplomatic efforts at the regional and international levels to stop attacks on Gaza, the aid sent to Gaza through the Rafah crossing, and Türkiye’s decisions regarding recent trade with Israel.

Haniyeh also said they discussed the danger to Al-Aqsa Mosque due to the upcoming Passover festival in Israel and assessed developments in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

‘Media blackout’

Assessing the media’s position on Gaza, Haniyeh stated that there is good attention and support for what is happening in Gaza in the Turkish, Arab and global media.

He stressed that Israel is imposing a significant media blackout and preventing foreign media members from entering the region to prevent the exposure of its crimes and atrocities from being brought to the attention of world public opinion.

Haniyeh urged Turkish media and other outlets to continue exposing Israel’s crimes, highlighting the dimensions of the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza and breaking Israel’s media blackout.

After his meeting with Erdoğan in Istanbul, he told AA that it is the first time he has spoken to an international media organization since October 7.

Killing his children

Haniyeh said the attack that killed his sons and grandchildren reflected Israel’s “inability to achieve military objectives for seven months, with the exception of killing civilians, thousands of children, women and the elderly.”

“That such a massacre reaches my home, my children and grandchildren, will put pressure on the leader and leadership of the movement to make concessions in the ongoing negotiations, is also misleading,” Haniyeh said.

He also expressed gratitude to the Turkish people for holding funeral prayers in absentia for his children and grandchildren in more than thirty cities.