Hamas chief arrives in Lebanon amid Arab tour

By Stephanie Radi

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AA) – Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Lebanon on Sunday as part of an Arab tour that included Egypt, Morocco, and Mauritania.

"Lebanon's visit is significant for Hamas since it is a chance to meet [Lebanese] state leaders […] along with leaders of Palestinian parties and resistance groups and the Palestinian people in the [refugee] camps," Haniyeh told a press conference upon arrival.

The Hamas leader said his meetings in Lebanon will focus on political developments after what he described as "the victory of resistance groups" in Gaza during Israel’s 11-day offensive in May.

An Egyptian-brokered truce on May 21 ended 11 days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza that erupted against the backdrop of an Israeli court ruling to evict Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

At least 260 Palestinians were killed and thousands injured in Israeli attacks in Gaza, while thirteen Israelis were killed by Palestinian rocket fire from the seaside territory.

Haniyeh said his visit to Lebanon aims to underline the Palestinian rights and principles, including the right to return and rejection of any idea related to an alternative home for the Palestinian people.

Hamas seeks to revive support for the Palestinian cause during the tour, confront the wave of normalization of relations between Israel and Arab countries, and rally support against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

Last year, four Arab countries — the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco — normalized their relations with Israel, a move Palestinians described as a "betrayal" of their cause.

*Writing by Ahmed Asmar in Ankara