Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Friday and briefed the him over the latest round of violence between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
During the two-hour meeting, Mashaal accused the Jewish state of "fabricating excuses" to attack the Palestinians. He also claimed that Israel has turned Gaza into a testing field for its weapons and the Iron Dome missile defense system.
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For his part, Erdogan expressed anger over the "Israeli aggression," and urge Hamas to avoid letting the Jewish state drag the Palestinians into war.
Mashaal with Erdogan in Ankara (Photo: AP)
Erdogan said prior to the meeting that the summit was meant to focus on the reconciliation efforts between the rival Palestinian factions, as well as other Mideast developments.
The meeting was not announced until Friday afternoon, and was attended by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Mashaal was accompanied by senior Hamas officials Mousa Abu Marzook, Izzat al-Rishq, Mohammed Nasser and others.
Al-Rishq said following the meeting that Mashaal thanked Erdogan for Turkey's support for the Palestinian people, its efforts to eliminate the maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip and for agreeing to receive Palestinian convicts who were released in the prisoner swap that freed IDF solider Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity.
According to Al-Rishq, Mashaal told Erdogan about the progress made in the efforts to reconcile with Fatah, and the two agreed that the Palestinian statehood issue should be raised on the global agenda again.
The meeting in Ankara was held a day after top Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar convened with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbhar Salehi, and expressed appreciation for the Islamic Republic's "unwavering support" for the Palestinians.
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