Hamas arrests Palestinian for taking down banner of Iran’s Soleimani in Gaza

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The Palestinian militant group Hamas arrested on Thursday a man for tearing down a banner of slain Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani which was put up ahead of the first anniversary of his death by the group, according to a relative of the detainee.

Hamas arrested Majdi al-Maghribi for tearing down a photo of a “criminal,” al-Maghribi’s brother wrote on Facebook on Thursday.


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Al-Maghribi had urged Gazans in a Facebook post on Wednesday to remove banners of Soleimani in the city. Hours later, he posted a video of himself tearing down a banner of the slain Iranian general which quickly went viral.

Hamas put up a large banner of Soleimani on the main coastal road in Gaza on Tuesday after a military drill, Reuters reported.

Several other banners of Soleimani were spotted across Gaza ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Iranian general’s death, according to Palestinian social media users. Arabs were quick to criticize the banners and Israeli officials condemned them as glorifying a “murderer.”

“A question to the people in Gaza: Do you expect Arabs to sympathize with you and your cause when they see you erecting statues of the killers of Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenis and the Lebanese?” Israeli military spokesman Avichay Adraee wrote on Twitter in Arabic, commenting on an image of one of the Soleimani banners in Gaza.

The same banner now appears to have been ripped apart by Gazans, according to a video shared by Palestinian social media users. A man filming the torn banner in Gaza can be heard describing Soleimani as the “killer of Syrians and Iraqis.”

The banner included text from a speech by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at Soleimani’s funeral in Tehran. “The martyr commander Qassem Soleimani who spent his life supporting the resistance… he is a martyr of al-Quds (Jerusalem),” the text reads.

Several other Soleimani banners have also been taken down and vandalised, images and videos shared by Palestinian social media users show.

Relations between Shia Iran and Sunni Hamas briefly deteriorated in the early years of the Syrian conflict after Hamas refused to support Iran’s ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against Sunni rebels.

Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force – the overseas arms of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – was killed in a US airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport on January 3.

A senior Hamas official said Sunday the group received $22 million in cash from Soleimani during a visit to Tehran in 2006, drawing criticism from Iranians who accuse the regime of prioritizing its network of proxy groups over its citizens.

Iranian demonstrators have voiced their opposition to Tehran’s foreign policies and accused the regime of squandering the country’s resources on foreign militias in three separate waves of anti-government protests – in 2009, 2017 and 2019 – using the popular chant “not Gaza, not Lebanon, I give my life for Iran” in reference to Tehran’s support for Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

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