Israel demands Russia expel Hamas delegation
The Israeli government on Thursday called on Moscow to deport a delegation of Hamas negotiators, calling their visit to the Russian capital an act of support for terrorism which lends legitimacy to atrocities.
“Hamas is a terror organization that is worse than ISIS,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, referring to the terrorist group Islamic State.
“Israel condemns the invitation of senior Hamas officials to Moscow, which is an act of support of terrorism, and legitimizes the atrocities of Hamas terrorists,” Haiat added. “We call on the Russian government to expel the Hamas terrorists immediately.”
Hamas “slaughtered, murdered, executed and burned” over 1,400 Israelis and “kidnapped” 220 more during the October 7 attack on Israel, said Haiat.
The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday that a Hamas delegation has arrived in Moscow, led by Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior member of the group’s political council. The subject of their talks with Russia was the release of hostages and the safe evacuation of Russian and other foreign nationals currently trapped in Gaza by the Israeli blockade.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has revealed that Hamas is willing to release civilian hostages into Tehran’s custody. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Amir-Abdollahian urged the world body to “support the release of 6,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons” as well.
Israel originally said around 200 people had been captured in the surprise attack earlier this month. That number has since risen to 224. However, Hamas has said that 50 of the hostages have been killed by Israeli air and artillery strikes on Gaza, along with more than 7,000 Palestinians.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to do everything possible to free the hostages, his primary objective is to “eliminate Hamas by destroying its military and governing abilities,” he said in a speech to the nation on Wednesday evening.
Israel’s war on Hamas is a fight “between the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas axis of evil and the forces of freedom and progress,” Netanyahu argued, vowing to deliver “a crushing victory over our enemies.”