Hamas Invites Friendly Iceland Leaders to Gaza
Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas in Gaza, has invited Iceland's President and Foreign Minister to visit Gaza. He thanked both for their support for Hamas-run Gaza and their criticism of Israel.
Haniyeh made his statements in a meeting with the chairman of the Iceland-Palestine Association, Sveinn Runar.
Iceland's leaders have expressed support for Gaza in the past, and have condemned Israel's counterterror measures in the area. In May, Iceland's Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson termed Gaza, "a giant prison where international law is being violated."
He called Israel's takeover of a flotilla that tried to breach its naval blockade of Hamas "a despicable crime." The takeover ended in bloodshed after passengers on one boat attacked IDF commandos with knives and iron pipes, sparking a gunfight in which nine were killed.
Skarphedinsson has worked to convince European leaders to "no longer look away... in the matters of Israel." He supported the UN in its investigation of the flotilla clash.
The Iceland-Palestine association has pushed Iceland to cut ties with Israel.
Growing anti-Israel sentiment in Iceland made headlines in 2009, when a bicycle shop owner in the capital city of Reykjavik put a sign on his door saying "Jews not welcome here." However, Iceland may tone down its pro-Hamas rhetoric as it moves closer to joining the European Union, which, like the United States and Israel, has labeled Hamas a terrorist group.
Iceland's support for Gaza may be one-sided. When a volcano erupted in the country in April, Hamas' Al-Aksa television broadcast a clip claiming the explosion was a Divine event aimed at filling " ."