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Report: Hamas, Iran coordinate response to Israel strike

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Lebanese newspaper al-Mustaqbal reported Tuesday that the purpose of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud al-Zahar's recent visit to Iran was to define Gaza's role in the case Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities.

Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Haniyeh visited Tehran last February while al-Zahar arrived at the Iranian capital earlier this month. According to the report, the parties discussed the introduction of missiles into the Gaza Strip in preparation for a conflict with Israel, which would enable Hamas to retaliate with rocket fire. Hamas has previously declared it will not take part in a conflict between Israel and Iran.

According to the report, Iran pledged to increase financial aid to Gaza and as a first step provided Hamas with $33 million immediately after Haniyeh's visit. Sources told al- Mustaqbal that Iran is working to sabotage Palestinian reconciliation efforts for fear of its effect on the Gaza Strip. Fatah has made a similar claim.

It should be noted that the paper is associated with former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who holds anti-Iran views.

The sources also stated that Haniyeh and al-Zahar's visits in Iran were held against the backdrop of Hamas power struggles between Khaled Mashaal's camp and Haniyeh and al-Zahar loyalists. Mashaal maintains close relations with the Gulf states while Haniyeh and al-Zahar focus efforts on Iran and Syria.

Mashaal visited Turkey this month and called for Palestinian unity. He said that the struggle against Israel will continue in the political-diplomatic arena and did not mention armed resistance.

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