Hamas leader Haniyeh meets Muslim, Christian leaders in Moscow

Hamas leader Haniyeh meets Muslim, Christian leaders in Moscow
During a visit expected to last several days, the chief of Hamas's political bureau met with several officials in the Russian capital and called for an end to Israeli attacks on religious sites.
2 min read
14 September, 2022
Haniyeh is visiting Moscow for several days [Getty]

The head of Hamas's political bureau Ismail Haniyeh has held several meetings with religious and political figures in Russia, as part of an official visit lasting several days.

Haniyeh and his delegation met with Muslim and Christian religious officials in Moscow and discussed Israeli attacks on holy sites in Jerusalem "foremost of which are Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre" and Israeli plans for the "Judaisation" of occupied East Jerusalem, a statement by the Palestinian movement said.

The Hamas delegation said Russian Muslims could play an important role in "defending holy sites" in occupied East Jerusalem.

Frequent Israeli attacks centred around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and the Sheikh Jarrah district in 2021 that spiralled into an 11-day Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, as Hamas retaliated with rocket fire.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it in violation of international law. It claims the whole of the city as its 'eternal capital' but this is rejected by Palestinians and most of the international community.

Among the meetings Haniyeh held were one with Sheikh Roshan Abbasov, the first deputy head of the Shura Council of Muftis of Russia and the Religious Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation, at the Great Mosque of Moscow.

Haniyeh also visited the Danilov Monastery in Moscow and met with Sergey Zvonarev, the high priest and secretary of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate for Foreign Affairs.

On Saturday, he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and passed on a message to President Vladimir Putin.

Israel has expressed anger at previous visits to Moscow by the Hamas leader.

Analysts expect the current visit to worsen already strained ties between Israel and Russia, which have come under stress due to the invasion of Ukraine.