The Palestinian militant group Hamas expressed happiness at the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, who passed away overnight Tuesday after a two-battle having suffered a stroke.
A spokesman for the group, Sami Abu Zuhri, told The Associated Press Wednesday, "the Palestinian people are very happy at the passing of this criminal who caused their blood to shed."
He added, "Shimon Peres was the last remaining Israeli official who founded the occupation, and his death is the end of a phase in the history of this occupation and the beginning of a new phase of weakness."
Hamas is sworn to the destruction of Israel. In 2007, it routed forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas and took over the Gaza Strip.
There was no immediate comment from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. However, he did eventually send his condolences to Peres’s family, describing him as a partner in peace, together with former PA President Yasser Arafat and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
He also noted the efforts Peres invested in forging a sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians since the signing of the Oslo Accords until the final moments of his life
His mesage appeared to conflict with the items published by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, under the direct authority of Abbas, which originally covered a short item on Peres’s death before being removed shortly after, only to be re-published documenting his “aggression.”
The article was noticeably devoid of any mention of Peres’s peace initiatives such as his key role as one of the architects of the Oslo Accords when Yasser Arafat stood at the helm of the PA.
Al-Manar, a Lebanese satellite television station affiliated with Hezbollah vilified Peres as a criminal, stating that he “will be forgotten since the world is better off without criminals.”
The depiction of Peres as a war criminal strongly contrasts with the sentiments expressed by dozens of world leaders and international figures, including President Barack Obama praised the former president and prime minister as “a statesman whose commitment to Israel's security and pursuit of peace was rooted in his own unshakeable moral foundation and unflagging optimism. I will always be grateful that I was able to call Shimon my friend.”