Around one year ago, on January 3rd, 2020, the US took public responsibility for the assassination of Iran's Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike near Baghdad airport, along with the Iraqi Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a key leader in the Popular Mobilization Forces, on their way back from a military tour in Syria and Lebanon. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the wrongly-called “Palestinian” Hamas movement, called Soleimani “the martyr of Jerusalem.” In reality, however, Soleimani is known for being a murderer involved in killing Syrian, Iraqi, and Lebanese people. Without Soleimani’s support for the Syrian regime, on sectarian grounds, with militias and weapons, Bashar al-Assad would not have remained in power until now. The same applies to Hassan Nasrallah in the southern suburb of Beirut, which now rules and controls the entire country from north to south and from east to west, and with all its Christian, Sunni, and Shiite communities.
The Senior Hamas leader left the Gaza Strip on December 2nd, 2020 and has not gone back. The first mission of his foreign tour was to remove Khaled Meshaal from the leadership of the movement that Sheikh Ahmed Yassin founded and continued to monitor until he was martyred on March 22nd, 2004 by an Israeli airstrike upon leaving a mosque near his home. On that day, Haniyeh, who usually accompanied the Sheikh to and back from the mosque, was absent. It is out of the question, of course, to accuse the Palestinian official of -God forbid- playing any role in this crime that Israel committed after many failed attempts.
The point here is that Hamas leader Haniyeh who left Gaza and has not gone back, and who is now traveling between Tehran, Damascus, the southern suburbs of Beirut, Istanbul, and sometimes also Baghdad, has no right eulogizing a murderer like Soleimani as “the martyr of Jerusalem.” Soleimani is reputed to have persuaded the Russians to intervene and support the Alawite regime in Syria and said that “Syria is the first line of defense for the resistance,” meaning the Iranian resistance, i.e. the Iranian regime. Soleimani also led the battle of Bashar al-Assad against the Syrian opposition on sectarian grounds. The forces that he led in order to restore what the opponents had taken from this regime were all, without exception, sectarian militias like the Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiite militias, and of course, Syrian Alawite militias led by officers from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
For the Iranian regime, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and all their followers and allies, the main motive behind the establishment of all these sectarian formations is an expansion in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Houthi part of Yemen. This means that the battle against this regime and its extensions in some countries in this region and the Red Sea, with its western shores and the Bab al-Mandab strait, is the battle of all Arabs. Therefore, Haniyeh who left Gaza for good may not make his usual statements in which he calls the murderer, Soleimani, “the martyr of Jerusalem.”
Neither Soleimani nor any of his followers or people like him, not even Haniyeh himself, deserve to be called “martyrs of Jerusalem.” Rather, the great martyr Sheikh Ahmed deserves such a title, along with all the martyrs of the Palestinian cause throughout an entire century.
It is certainly a shameful and unacceptable act for Haniyeh or anyone else to eulogize a sectarian murderer like Soleimani, while the first Palestinian revolution was that of Izz al-Din al-Qassam, who was the first martyr among Palestinian leaders, although he was born in Jableh, Syria, in 1883, and was buried in 1935 in the village of Nazlat Zaid in Jenin. It should be noted here that Hamas named its military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, after this great martyr.
I reiterate that Haniyeh has no right distributing martyr and hero titles to his acquaintances, companions, and the symbols of the Iranian regime that has been tearing apart the Arab region based on sectarianism. There is irrefutable evidence that General Soleimani’s hands are stained with the blood of innocent people based on sectarian motives, he thus does not deserve to be called “the martyr of Jerusalem.” The Palestinian people know the real martyrs of Jerusalem, the latest of which was Yasser Arafat, whom the Israeli Mossad poisoned. This is a fact, and the French people are supposed to know this better than anyone.
I had waited for our brothers in the Palestinian leadership to reveal their information about the role of Israel in the assassination of this great Palestinian leader who was the first leader for the contemporary Palestinian revolution that began in 1965. Now that I am done with waiting, I will reveal that I had called President Mahmoud Abbas and asked him about the condition of Abu Ammar, to which he answered, “It is very bad,” and he added, “You can call him to find out everything.” Therefore, I called this great man whom I knew and accompanied for years, and I was shocked when I heard his frail and sad voice on the phone telling me after I asked him about his health, that "they have finally sealed my fate, my dear Saleh…It’s over.”
That was unexpected, even though Abu Ammar, may Allah have mercy on him, escaped many assassination attempts. One of those attempts was when he was leaving Beirut in 1982. I was among his companions in that trip from Lebanon to Athens, and from there to Tunis and then to Fez, Morocco, where the second Arab Summit was held at the initiative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and thanks to King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, may Allah have mercy on him, who was a crown prince at that difficult and dangerous time.
My point is that “the martyr of Jerusalem” title does not fit Soleimani nor anyone like him. The title certainly applies to the first “martyr of Jerusalem,” Abdul Qadir al-Husseini, born in Qastal, Jerusalem, in 1908, an who was leader of the Army of the Holy War, martyred on April 8, 1948, and buried in Bab al-Hadid in this holy city.
In conclusion, Soleimani is unfit for and undeserving of “the martyr of Jerusalem” title that Haniyeh gave him. In contrast, Abu Ammar, Abu Jihad, and the greatest martyrs of the Palestinian leadership certainly deserve such a title.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al- Awsat.