Hamas mourns Raisi, says he supported the group against Israel

By Thomson Reuters May 20, 2024 | 4:31 AM

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

CAIRO (Reuters) – The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas mourned on Monday the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who it said had supported the Palestinian people during the current war with Israel.

Raisi, a hardliner long seen as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday in mountainous terrain near the Azerbaijan border, officials and state media said on Monday.

The charred wreckage of the helicopter, which was carrying Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, was found early on Monday after an overnight search in a blizzard.

“These leaders supported the legitimate struggle of our people against the Zionist entity, provided valued support to the Palestinian resistance, and made tireless efforts in solidarity and support in all forums and fields for our people in the steadfast Gaza Strip during the Battle of Al-Aqsa Flood,” referring to the war with Israel which began on Oct 7.

“They also made significant political and diplomatic efforts to stop the Zionist aggression against our Palestinian people,” said Hamas in a statement.

In a separate statement, the Islamic Jihad group, which is fighting alongside Hamas in Gaza, said Raisi and Amirabdollahian “played a prominent and clear role in supporting and assisting the struggle of the Palestinian people and its resistance in facing the ongoing criminal Zionist aggression.”

“We are confident that the Islamic Republic of Iran can overcome this painful ordeal, as it has overcome all difficulties and challenges throughout its extended journey over the past decades,” the group added.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders have repeatedly thanked Iran for its military and financial support to the group in their decades-long fight against Israel.

Support for Iran has always caused controversy among the Palestinians, with some viewing Iran as a main backer in the conflict against Israel, in the absence of military support by Muslim Sunni regimes, while some accuse it of meddling in Palestinian affairs to serve its own purposes.

(Reporting and writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi, editing by Ed Osmond, Editing by William Maclean)