In rare criticism, Palestinian group tacitly accuses Lebanese militia of abandoning the Palestinian cause and sowing sectarian strife.
Hamas issued an unusual admonishment of Hezbollah on Monday, calling on the Shiite organization to direct its firepower at Israel and demanding that it withdraw from Syria.
“We demand of Hezbollah to withdraw its forces from Syria and call on it to leave its weapons directed only at the Zionist enemy,” read a statement by Hamas, posted on the Facebook page of its deputy political leader Moussa Abu Marzouq. “The entry of [Hezbollah] forces to Syria has contributed to increasing the sectarian mobilization in the region.”
Despite its withdrawal from Syria in early 2012, Hamas has so far been wary of publicly criticizing Hezbollah for its military support of the Assad regime over recent months. On June 5, London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Araby reported that a schism existed within Hamas regarding its attitude toward Hezbollah. Hamas’s military wing, the Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, reportedly endorsed the alliance with the Syria-Hezbollah axis, while its political leadership opposed it. A Hamas military spokesman denied that report, however.
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah admitted in a televised speech May 25 that his movement was involved in fighting alongside the Syrian army, claiming that by defending Assad Hezbollah was indirectly defending Palestinians.
“If Syria falls, the Palestinian cause will be lost,” he said.
But in its statement Monday, Hamas insinuated that Hezbollah had actually forgotten its original mandate: fighting Israel.
“The Palestinian issue is the central issue for the Arab and Islamic nation. Resisting the Zionist occupation is its primary mission, and the compass of resistance and its direction must be maintained regardless of the changing circumstances,” read the statement.
Syrian opposition groups reported on May 30 that Hezbollah had ordered Hamas’s representative in Beirut, Ali Baraka, to leave the country immediately over Hamas’s public support for Syrian rebels fighting Assad. Baraka denied the report, telling Lebanese media there was no change in the relationship between the two organizations.