Haniyeh supports hunger-striking terrorists

New Hamas leader says the freedom of hunger-striking terrorists is a national duty.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ismail Haniyeh
Ismail Haniyeh

New Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Monday pledged support for hunger-striking terrorist prisoners in Israel, in his first comments since being elected as head of the movement that runs Gaza.

"This visit is a message to our heroic prisoners that your cause was and will remain a top priority," he said during a visit to a protest in Gaza in support of the hunger strikers, according to AFP.

"Your freedom is a national duty and your dignity is our dignity," added Haniyeh.

Hundreds of terrorists in Israeli jails began a hunger strike on April 17 in an attempt to pressure Israel to improve the conditions of their imprisonment.

The hunger strike is being led by Marwan Barghouti, a leader of Fatah which is a rival faction to Hamas, but on Sunday, Israeli authorities distributed video footage proving that Barghouti secretly ate in his cell despite being on hunger strike.

Barghouti's wife and other Palestinian Arab officials have dismissed the video as fake and an attempt to break the hunger strikers.

Haniyeh was elected by Hamas’s Shura Council on Saturday. Unlike his predecessor Khaled Mashaal, he is expected to be based in Gaza.

Haniyeh takes charge of Hamas as it seeks to ease its international isolation. Last week, the group unveiled a new policy document which accepts the idea of a Palestinian state in territories liberated by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967 but still refuses to recognize Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded with skepticism to Hamas's new policy, noting, "We see that Hamas continues to invest all its resources not only in preparations for war against Israel, but also in educating the children of Gaza to annihilate Israel.”