Hamas leader calls for Palestinian liberation at Raisi funeral in Iran

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The head of the Hamas terror group travelled to Iran for its late president’s funeral where he implored Muslims to help liberate Palestinians and met with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader.

Khamenei led prayers on Wednesday for Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday alongside Iran’s foreign minister and other officials.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, which is backed by Iran, met with Khamenei and addressed mourners.

As chants of “Death to Israel” came from the crowd, Haniyeh recalled how Raisi told him that Hamas’s Oct 7 attack on Israel was an “earthquake in the heart of the Zionist entity”.

”I am here on behalf of the Palestinian people, in the name of the resistance factions of Gaza ... to express our condolences,” Haniyeh continued.

The Muslim world “must fulfil their obligations to the Palestinians to liberate their land”, he said.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's top leader, in Tehran
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Ismail Haniyeh in Tehran - West Asia News via Reuters

Haniyeh’s appearance at the funeral proceedings was his first public appearance after the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said he was seeking an arrest warrant for the Hamas leader, who lives in exile in Qatar.

Iranian state media published pictures showing Haniyeh meeting with Khamenei and Mohammed Mokhber, the acting president.

Khamenei indicated that Iran’s “policies and approaches…regarding Palestine” would remain the same.

He also told Haniyeh that the “destruction of the Zionist regime is feasible and, God willing, the day in which Palestine will be created from the sea to the river will arrive”.

The deaths of Raisi, known as the “Butcher of Tehran” after being held responsible for thousands of dissidents’ deaths, and Hossein Amir-abdollahian, who was foreign minister, and other Iranian officials comes at a very tense moment for the Middle East.

The region is grappling with the consequences of a mushrooming war that has galvanised Iran-backed militant groups to exchange fire with the Israeli military, or engage in attacks that have sent ripple effects across the globe.

Negotiations for a ceasefire have been deadlocked as the death toll in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory where the worst clashes have occurred between Israel and Hamas, continues to rise.

Huge crowds in the streets of Tehran for the funeral procession of Ebrahim Raisi
Huge crowds in Tehran for the funeral procession of Ebrahim Raisi - AFP via Getty

Raisi, 63, had been seen as a potential successor to Khamenei, now 85.

There is now no clear candidate, though propaganda messaging before Raisi’s death had suggested that Khamenei was possibly grooming Mojtaba Khamenei, his son, for the top job.

The ICC prosecutor is also seeking warrants for Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Al-Masri, who are part of the Hamas leadership, as well as Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant, the Israeli prime minister and defence minister respectively.

A number of countries sent delegations to Tehran to attend funeral services, including Pakistan, Iraq, Armenia, Egypt, Jordan, China, Russia and Turkey.

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