Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh continued his tour of the Arab world on Monday as Israel
and Palestinian representatives gear up to restart peace talks.
On Monday, Haniyeh met in Turkey with family members of the nine Turkish victims of the Marmara raid
who were killed last may. The Hamas
premier visited the ship and denounced Israel and its blockade of the Gaza Strip.
"Israel wants to split the Palestinian people in two, using the blockade," he said at the Port of Istanbul. Addressing Operation Cast Lead,
Haniyeh claimed that the IDF sought to topple the Hamas regime and silence the voice of Palestinian resistance.
He said that Israel's actions were not only directed against the Palestinians but "all the humanitarian activists who wanted to help Gaza." The Hamas leader also declared that the Turkish and the Palestinian people share a common fate. "The blood of your victims beat the blockade, your victims are our victims and your wounded are our wounded."
Haniyeh in Istanbul (Photo: Reuters)
Referring to the monument Hamas built in memory of the Marmara victims, Haniyeh said: "The promise we made to the victims means not giving up on Jerusalem and freedom for prisoners in Israeli jails."
He thanked Turkey and noted that the Marmara restored the country's honor. The Marmara captured the hearts of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, he said.
Addressing Israel, he said, "You stopped the Marmara from reaching Gaza but Gaza reached the world."
He also referred to the Shalit prisoner exchange
deal, and noted that Israel wanted to bring back the captive soldier without giving anything in return.
Haniyeh was hosted in Turkey by the IHH,
the organization behind the Gaza flotilla, which Israel considers to be a terrorist group. Earlier, he met with prisoners who were freed as part of the Shalit deal and were deported to Turkey. He said that the swap deal was an expression of a Palestinian, Arab and Islamic marriage. "This is a triumph for the Palestinian people, the resistance and the fighters," he said.
On Sunday, Haniyeh met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
who said that the Palestinian issue cannot be solved without Hamas being involved in the process.
Palestinian media outlets reported that Haniyeh and Erdogan met in the prime minister's residence along with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and other officials.
According to reports, Haniyeh and Erdogan discussed the "The 'Jewfication' of Jerusalem, and the cruel attacks against its Arab residents."
The official Iranian news agency FARS quoted a Hamas senior official as saying that Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal are expected to visit Iran later in the week. This was the only report on the matter.