JAFFA, Israel – The South African ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Ashraf Suliman, visited the Gaza Strip on Sunday and met with Hamas leaders there.
During a much publicized meeting with Hamas’s former Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar (pictured) and former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, the latter thanked the ambassador for his country’s steadfast support for the Palestinian people, especially since Nelson Mandela’s presidency in the 1990s.
Haniyeh and Ambassador Suliman discussed the “threats” posed by Israel to Al Aqsa Mosque, the prisoners in Israeli jails and the Israeli naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.
Hamas said in a statement that Haniyeh briefed the ambassador about Hamas’ efforts to bring about a power-sharing deal with the Palestinian Authority and improve relations with Egypt.
Al-Zahar briefed the ambassador about issues pertaining to the blockade on Gaza and the closure of the border crossings, as well as recent developments in Jerusalem and claims over the AL Aqsa Mosque.
Shortly before the meeting, Haniyeh delivered a speech on the occasion of the National Day of the Prisoner.
“Azz a-Din al Qassam Brigades are constantly instructed to do their utmost to empty the Israeli prisons of all the jailed Palestinian heroes,” he said. “The order has not been changed.”
“We will continue to integrate the efforts of our courageous fighters and tough negotiators, who are supported by the people, to bring about the release of all the prisoners,” he said, referring to the possibility of future attacks against Israel.
Across the Gaza Strip, marches and rallies for Prisoner Day were held, attended by top Hamas leaders.
“The dawn of liberty and freedom for the Palestinian prisoners is approaching,” Abu Ubeideh, the commander of Hamas’ military wing, said at one of them.