Hezbollah-Hamas Relations 'Good' Despite Beirut Bombing Accusations

Sources close to Hezbollah claim ties with Hamas remain on relatively good terms despite disagreements and accusations that Hamas was involved in bombing a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut.

al-monitor Lebanon's Hezbollah supporters wave Palestinian and Hezbollah flags during a demonstration, organized by Lebanese and Palestinian factions, against Israel's military operation in Gaza, in front of the UN headquarters in Beirut, Nov. 17, 2012.  Photo by REUTERS/Jamal Saidi.

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syrian crisis, syrian, syria, palestinian, lebanon, israel, hezbollah, hamas

Aug 27, 2013

A source close to Hezbollah, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed in an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor that communication between Hezbollah and Hamas continues to be "good," despite the persistence of some disagreements on certain political issues, particularly the Syrian crisis.

This well-informed Lebanese source was commenting on several media leaks in which Hezbollah accused members of Hamas of involvement in the latest attacks on the southern suburbs of Beirut, including the rocket attacks that targeted the suburbs several months ago. An Al-Monitor article by Meir Javedanfar from Aug. 22 noted the deterioration in the relationship between the two Islamist movements, citing a report from the Iranian website Tabnak, which in turn cited Ibrahim al-Amin, the editor-in-chief of the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar known for his ties to Hezbollah. Amin noted the links between some members of Hamas to the bombing in the Ruwais neighborhood of Beirut's southern suburbs on Aug. 15.

The source denied reports that Hezbollah had hurled accusations at Hamas, and said that the Lebanese security agencies are undertaking a number of investigations concerning the latest attacks. They are currently pursuing a man known as Ahmed Taha, a Palestinian wanted for involvement in the rockets launched against the southern suburbs on May 26. The source noted that Hamas denied that Taha was a member of the organization. Hamas stated that Taha’s brother, Fadi, was a member, and noted that they had handed him over to Lebanese military intelligence, which interrogated him concerning his brother’s whereabouts and then released him.

Hamas, however, denied that the Lebanese security forces had requested that the movement turn over two individuals accused of firing rockets at the southern suburbs. Hamas’ representative in Lebanon, Ali Baraka, stated that Hamas handed over Ahmed Taha’s brother and one of his relatives to army intelligence, and stressed that the group was cooperating with Lebanese military intelligence.

The agencies involved in the investigation suspect that Ahmed Taha was responsible for firing the rockets. According to preliminary investigations, Taha worked with other Palestinians who reside in multiple Palestinian refugee camps throughout Lebanon and have ties to Hamas.

But official sources say that military intelligence also demanded Hamas hand over Alaa al-Din Mahmoud Yasin, a Hamas official in the Rashdiyyeh Palestinian refugee camp south of Tyre. Born on June 1, 1989, he resides on Yasin Street in the Rashdiyyeh camp. He is wanted after evidence surfaced indicating he directed Taha in the firing of the rockets and preparing for other terrorist operations. Hamas has yet to fulfill the demand.

The source close to Hezbollah quoted Baraka saying that Hamas will not cover for any Hamas operative proven to be involved in any terrorist operation against Hezbollah. He stated that Hamas has no intention of engaging in a confrontation with Hezbollah, as it is keen to preserve its strategic alliance against Israel for the sake of the Palestinian cause. 

The source estimated that if the accused men are proven to have ties to Hamas or other Palestinian factions, they are likely infiltrated and now working as agents of Israeli or regional security services advancing these group’s agendas under the guise of belonging to Hamas. He noted that the Palestinian refugee camps contain many factions and suffer from widespread youth unemployment. Both factors enable regional security services to “turn” some in the camps and purchase their loyalties.

The same source accused Saudi Arabia of sponsoring extremists affiliated with global jihadists from Chechnya to al-Qaeda. He cited the leaked reports by As-Safir that Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the head of Saudi intelligence, informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that Riyadh was “controlling” Chechen jihadists and that Saudi Arabia could provide “a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year.”

Security sources told Al-Akhbar that investigations had shown that the rockets fired at the southern suburbs were purchased from an arms dealer in the Burj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp located in the southern suburbs, who sold them to a third party. According to the dealer, he believed they had wanted to fire the rocket against the Israeli enemy, as normally happens. The investigations also showed that the car bomb detonated in the Bir al-Abd region of the southern suburbs two months ago might have been equipped with explosives in one of the Palestinian camps.

The source close to Hezbollah stressed that the relationship with the Palestinian factions in the camps is part of Hezbollah’s strategy in its conflict with Israel. He added that it is in Israel’s interest to drive a wedge between the different factions of the resistance and spread rumors upsetting the relationship between them.

The source drew attention to the fact that all the Palestinian factions had made visits to the site of the Ruwais bombing to express solidarity with Hezbollah and to condemn the terrorist attack. Each utterly repudiated any threat to the security of the Lebanese resistance embodied in Hezbollah. The source stated that all these factions — particularly Fatah, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority through its president, Mahmoud Abbas — had stressed that they wish to distance the refugee camps from involvement in the political and sectarian conflicts of Lebanon.

The source emphasized that Hezbollah’s meetings with Hamas are ongoing and have not been discontinued, despite their diverging views on the Syrian crisis. Nevertheless, he refrained from exaggerating the improvement in relations and did not say that they had been restored to what they were prior to Hamas’ departure from Syria. 

In turn, Hamas' representative in Lebanon Ali Baraka stated that “Coordination with Hezbollah is active, and communication between party leaders never ceased.”

Regarding the rockets that were fired Thursday from southern Lebanon into Israeli settlements in the Galilee, the source highlighted the al-Qaeda-affiliated Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalion’s claim for responsibility. He stressed that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) had nothing to do with the operation.

Israeli planes launched a raid on the morning of Aug. 23 against a site belonging to the PFLP-GC in the area of Naimeh south of Beirut, without causing any casualties.

When asked why Israel targeted a base belonging to the PFLP-GC, the source said that Israel wanted to send a message that it will not tolerate any attack on its citizens. It chose a target that was not affiliated with Hezbollah, but rather a Palestinian base outside the camps.

Haytham Mouzahem is a Lebanese analyst specializing in Middle Eastern and Islamic affairs. On Twitter: @haytham66

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