EXCLUSIVE: Iran Extends Invite to Hamas Chief for First Time in Four Years, Sources Say

Hassan Rouhani
The Associated Press

TEL AVIV – Hamas sources told Breitbart Jerusalem that the group’s chief, Khaled Mashaal, has been invited to Tehran by the Iranian government for the first time since 2011.

The sources confirmed that Mashaal received a formal invitation, though they emphasized that he has yet to accept, fearing a backlash from Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar.

Sources in Hamas added that Ali Barakeh, Hamas’ representative in Lebanon, quietly visited Tehran on Friday to participate in a discussion on Islamic unity.

Although a formal Mashaal visit to Iran is yet to take place, Tehran has resumed its financial support for Hamas following a protracted hiatus, the Hamas sources said. Initially, funds were channeled to the movement’s military wing, which was soon followed by a full resumption of aid.

Iran’s invitation comes at a crucial moment for Hamas, which has been gravely affected by Egypt’s clampdown on cross-border smuggling of weapons and goods that have shored up the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

Internationally, Hamas has been oscillating between the Sunni orbit, which provides the movement with international backing, and Iran, which provides vital financial support.

Reached by Breitbart Jerusalem, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri declined to confirm Mashaal’s invite to Iran. Zurhi said only that Hamas seeks good relations with every supporter of the Palestinian struggle.

The report of Iran’s invitation to Hamas comes after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced last week it had ended its 12-year investigation into concerns Tehran possessed a previous nuclear weapons program. The move was a precondition for the lifting of US, EU and UN sanctions.