Iran-backed Palestinian leader vows victory over Israel in the war in Gaza

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TEHRAN , Iran (AP) — The leader of the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad vowed victory over Israel in the war in Gaza as he met Iran's foreign minister for talks in Tehran Saturday.

“I promise you that we will be the victors in the war,” Ziad al-Nakhalah told reporters, according to the official IRNA news agency. He called his meeting with Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian “important” and thanked Iran for its support for the Palestinians.

Iran hasn’t directly intervened in the Israel-Hamas war, despite long describing Israel as its archenemy. However, experts say Iran provides both financial and political support to Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza and that launched the Oct. 7 attack on Israel in which more than 1,200 people were killed and about 250 were taken hostage.

“Active diplomacy by Islamic Republic of Iran has had a great role in defining the stance of Palestinian resistance,” al-Nakhalah was quoted as saying.

The two sides discussed the latest development in the war, and Israel’s “war crimes and genocide," IRNA reported.

Also in Tehran was the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, who met with al-Nakhalah, as well as holding separate talks with the Iranian leadership over the past few days.

Iranian media reported that al-Nakhalah and Haniyeh, during their bilateral meeting Friday in Tehran said the success of any indirect negotiation with Israel depends on the end of Israel's war on Gaza, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territory, the return of displaced people and the continued delivery of humanitarian aid. They also stressed the need for “intensifying resistance in all fields" and thanked Yemen's Houthis for their support, as well as Iraqi and Lebanese anti-Israeli militant groups.

Earlier in the week, the U.N Security Council adopted a resolution on Gaza, demanding an immediate cease-fire, as well as the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

Nearly six months of war has destroyed critical infrastructure in Gaza, including hospitals, schools and homes as well as roads, sewage systems and the electrical grid. Airstrikes and Israel’s ground offensive have left more than 32,000 Palestinians dead, according to local health authorities. The fighting has displaced over 80% of Gaza’s population and pushed hundreds of thousands to the brink of famine, the U.N. and international aid agencies say.