Hezbollah leader, Hamas chief discuss recent Gaza fighting

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh meets Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut for talks on Israel’s 11-day bombardment of Gaza.

Haniyeh said 'Jerusalem remains the focus' of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict [File: Aziz Taher/Reuters]

The top leaders of the groups Hezbollah and Hamas held talks in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday about last month’s 11-day Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs Gaza, arrived in Lebanon on Sunday and met several top officials, including President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

On Tuesday, Haniyeh and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah discussed how they can build on the experience of the latest round of violence. The Israeli bombardment killed at least 256 Palestinians, including 66 children. Thirteen people were killed in Israel, including two children.

The two sides stressed “the depth of the existing relationship between Hezbollah and Hamas, and its key role … in this decisive battle”, Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported, citing a Hezbollah statement.

In a speech after the meeting, Haniyeh stressed the importance of the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants and the rejection of resettlement or an “alternative homeland”. He said the Palestinians who reside in Lebanon are “guests” until they can return to their homeland, and that they contribute to Lebanon’s “stability and security”.

Haniyeh noted that “Jerusalem remains the focus of the conflict with the occupation and the resistance is the strategic choice for liberation.”

He added: “The unity of the Palestinian people is the basis for achieving this liberation.”

The meeting was the first between the two leaders since last September.

During the escalation of violence last month, Hamas and other armed groups fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel, while Israeli air attacks and shelling caused widespread destruction in the impoverished enclave, which has been under a joint Israeli-Egyptian air, land and sea blockade since 2007.

After the fighting in Gaza, Haniyeh took part in reconciliation talks with rival Palestinian factions in Egypt and later visited Morocco and Mauritania before arriving in Lebanon.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies