Beirut: As Israeli attacks continued to pummel Gaza from air and ground for the eleventh day running on Thursday, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani sent a letter to Mohammed Deif, the supreme commander of Hamas’s military wing, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, in which he pledged that Tehran would not abandon the Palestinians.
The latest round of fighting with Israel, Qaani said, “has opened a new era in the conflict with the Zionist enemy.”
Qaani praised Hamas and the Gaza-based militant groups for engaging in a “great battle that once again proved the weakness of the enemy.”
He added: “I kiss the hands that are carrying the weapons of Jihad (holy war) to defend Jerusalem and its holy sites. We will never be satisfied until this entity (Israel) is removed from the blessed land of Palestine and the liberation of every grain of its soil.”
Qaani vowed to fulfill the promise of his predecessor, General Qasem Soleimani, and continue all out aid to the resistance groups. “We will not leave Palestine alone, regardless of the pressures and siege,” he wrote in the letter, which was published by the Palestinian news agency SAFA.
Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, 2020. He was responsible, among other things, for military and tactical support for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
Qaani described Deif as a “living martyr” and “brave commander.”
Israeli army reportedly tried but failed twice to kill Deif since the fighting began. Deif has been Israel’s ‘most wanted’ Palestinian commander for the last 26 years for his direct involvement in military operations.
In the letter, Qaani reminded the Hamas of the recent statement by Iran’s Supreme Leader Sayed Ali Khamenei, who said that “the decline of the enemy Zionist regime has begun and will not stop.”
Sayed made his statement in a speech marking Al-Quds Day, an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan that was initiated by his predecessor Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 to express support for the Palestinians and oppose Zionism and Israel.
“We are living with you the great battle of the ‘Sword of Jerusalem’ that you are waging on behalf of the Muslims and in defense of their honor, dignity and sanctities,” Qaani wrote to Deif.
Hamas has called its rocket assault on Israel Saif al-Quds (‘Sword of Jerusalem”).
According to Qaani, the battle of the “Sword of Jerusalem” has “brought the Muslims’ attention back to Jerusalem and the holy sites.”
In an indirect reference to the Palestinian Authority and Arab countries that signed peace treaties with Israel, the Iranian military commander said that those who “sold Palestine represent only themselves and will regret their betrayal.”
Last week, Qaani told Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh during a phone conversation that Iran continues to support the “battle against the Zionist enemy.”
Haniyeh, for his part, praised Iran’s support for the Palestinians and said that the “battle in Palestine is a fight involving the whole Islamic Ummah,” according to the Iranian Tasnim News Agency.
In a related development, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Major General Hossein Salami on Wednesday pledged Iran’s unwavering support for the Palestinians.
He also praised the “strong resistance put up by the Palestinians in the face of the Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip, saying, “More than two-thirds of Zionist cities were attacked by Palestinian rockets from Gaza, leaving no safe haven for them.”
Salami said that the “defeat of Israel is a sign of the defeat of the US. The Americans and the Israelis are stuck between two defeats; if they retreat, they have failed, and if they stand, they have failed, too.”
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