Palestinians, along with the rest of the region, followed the news of the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force. Most Palestinian factions issued statements of condolence and solidarity with Iran, and confirmed that they had lost a courageous leader. This is because he provided support to the resistance in Palestine, and his undying goal was Jerusalem and the liberation of all Palestine and because he was a field commander who did not leave the field.
The Palestinian statements noted that the US opened the gates of hell by assassinating Soleimani, describing US President Donald Trump as having a criminal mentality which leads him to attack all anti-imperialists.
The Palestinian factions described Soleimani as a martyr of Palestine and the nation, and his assassination will be a historical turning point in the liberation process, because the American-Israeli decision to assassinate him, a political suicide, will have devastating consequences for the projects and plans of the nation’s enemies.
The Palestinian factions not only issued statements of condolences for the assassination of Soleimani, but also invited the Palestinians to pay their respects at a wake held in Gaza City.
However some Palestinian and Arab positions rejected Hamas’ issuing of condolences on the grounds that the Iranian general was involved in the killing of Iraqi, Syrian and Yemeni Sunni Muslims and his support for the Palestinian resistance does not absolve him of his sins.
Those who object to Hamas’ position believe that it looks at the world through the lens of the Palestinian cause, considering it is its main cause. Hamas was forced to take aid from Iran because of the severe siege imposed on it.
Those opposed to the movement’s actions added that the defence that Iran supported Palestinian factions with money and arms against Israel is an unjustified and does not allow for paying respect to Soleimani and his description as a martyr. According to them, this is because his crimes are no less significant than those of Israel. The opposition even accused Hamas of losing direction because it is paying respect to a sectarian killer and therefore losing its popularity among those who advocate for it and defend the movement.
On the other hand, those who defended Hamas’ position stressed that the Arab and Muslim nations have abandoned the movement, so it has the right to resort to any party that supports it. Afterall, the movement has been added to terrorism lists in many Arab countries. Moreover, its supporters are arrested and its means of finance strangled.
While the Israeli media revealed that Tel Aviv sent a warning message through Egypt to Hamas and Islamic Jihad after the assassination of Soleimani, warning them not to make any attempts to respond to his assassination from the Gaza Strip, these factions denied the reports.
The Palestinian factions in Gaza affirm that they are not interested in military escalation with Israel, and there is a factional consensus to keep the state of calm. They also noted that the war is open with occupation and should not to be linked to a specific event such as the assassination of Soleimani.
However, Palestinians may fear that the American decision to assassinate Soleimani, who can be described as the second in command in Iran, may encourage Israel to resume assassinations against Palestinian leaders, especially since Benjamin Netanyahu’s first comment on the incident hinted at this, when he said: “Just as Israel has the right of self-defence, the United States has exactly the same right.”
The Israeli political scene is also intense at the moment and therefore any Israeli decision to assassinate will have a role in improving Netanyahu’s electoral opportunities on the one hand, and restoring the eroding Israeli deterring power on the other. This is especially since the Palestinians are still reeling from the latest Israeli assassination targeting the military leader of Islamic Jihad in November.
Perhaps many Israeli partisan, political and military circles believe that America’s assassination of Soleimani should push the Israeli government and army to deliver a heavy blow to Hamas, restore its deterrence capabilities in the eyes of the Palestinians, and stop any legal discussion about the acceptability of assassinating Palestinians.
The most important point for the Palestinians regarding Soleimani’s assassination is the extent of Iranian support for them, financially and militarily.
It is true that the decision to support the Palestinian resistance is of central matter in Iran, under the direct supervision of Supreme Leader Khamenei, but Soleimani closely carried out the Palestinian file and became aware of the minute details in the Palestinian scene. This made him aware of its complexities and problems, due to the personal relationships that linked him with the Palestinian factions.
Iran has appointed another general to succeed Soleimani and the Palestinians will have a considerable amount of time to get to know him closely, as well as his new agenda and how much of a priority the Palestinian issue is for him compared to the other pressing issues Iran will be faced with in the coming period.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.