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Senior Hamas Leaders Went to Moscow to Speak With Russian Officials

The Hamas delegation will meet with Russian Foreign Ministry officials and the head of the Chechen Republic.
Palestinian Hamas militants take part in an anti-Israel rally in Gaza City May 22, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
Palestinian Hamas militants take part in an anti-Israel rally in Gaza City May 22, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

A delegation of senior Hamas leaders went to Moscow to meet with Russian officials, to discuss the situation in Jerusalem amid tensions surrounding al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount, the Hamas movement announced on Wednesday afternoon.

The delegation is set to hold meetings with officials from Russia's Foreign Ministry, including deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov, to discuss the situation in Jerusalem, developments in the Palestinian arena and the bilateral relationship between Hamas and Russia, according to the report.

The delegation is also set to meet with Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, and may meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov if the minister's schedule permits, according to the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV.

The Hamas delegation is being headed by the deputy head of Hamas’s external bureau of Hamas Mousa Abu Marzook and is being joined by the movement's representative in Moscow, as well as other Hamas officials.

The meetings in Moscow come amid heightened tensions between Russia and Israel after statements issued by Lavrov sparked outrage from Israeli officials in recent days.

Earlier this week, Lavrov attacked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for what he called "Nazi elements" in Ukraine, saying "the fact that he is a Jew does not negate the Nazi elements in his country. I believe that Adolf Hitler also had Jewish blood." The comment sparked outrage from Israeli officials, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid calling the statement "unforgivable."

After the Russian ambassador was summoned by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the Russian Foreign Ministry called Lapid's statements "anti-historical" and said that the statements “explain to a large extent why the current Israeli government supports the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv.”

The Hamas delegation's visit to Moscow also comes amid heightened tensions in Jerusalem, as Israel prepares to reopen the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors on Thursday, Israeli Independence Day, after it was closed for nearly two weeks due to the end of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

Hamas Spokesperson Abdel Latif Al-Qanou warned that if Jews were allowed to enter the site on Thursday, it would be a "detonator for a new confrontation" with Israel. The spokesperson called on Arabs and Palestinians to arrive at the Temple Mount to confront the Jewish visits.

On Tuesday evening, Palestinian media reported that Israeli police prevented the evening call to prayer at al-Aqsa Mosque due to a Memorial Day ceremony being held at the Western Wall.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement called the prevention of the call to prayer a "flagrant violation of the religious rites of Muslims and "a dangerous violation of the red lines." The movement added that it holds Israel "fully responsible for what the situation will lead to."

"Settler calls to storm Al-Aqsa are a war against our people and our sanctities, and we will not hesitate to defend our Aqsa and our sanctuaries," said the movement.

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