Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that continues to control the Gaza Strip and opposes Israel’s existence, is considered a terrorist organization by the US, the EU, and Israel, but not by Russia, China, Turkey, and some other countries.
The Palestinian militant group had maintained its contacts with Russia since 2006 when it won the Palestinian parliamentary elections and was invited to Moscow by then-President Vladimir Putin.
Since then, Hamas leaders have visited Russia several times and held talks with Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The most recent Hamas visit to Russia took place in October 2023, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas that erupted in September 2023, when Hamas launched a massive rocket attack on Israel, killing over 1,400 Israelis and triggering a fierce Israeli retaliation.
The Hamas delegation, led by the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau Saleh al-Arouri, met with Lavrov and other Russian diplomats and praised Russia’s efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and support the Palestinian cause.
The Hamas visit to Russia was condemned by Israel, which accused Russia of supporting terrorism and called for the expulsion of the Hamas delegation.
Israel also expressed its outrage over an anti-Jewish riot that took place in Dagestan, a southern Russian region, on October 29, 2023, when hundreds of rioters stormed an airport to search for Israelis arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv.
Israel blamed the riot on Russia’s pro-Hamas stance and asked Moscow to protect Israeli citizens and Jews in Russia.
Russia defended its decision to host Hamas members in Moscow, saying it was important to maintain dialogue with both sides in the Israel-Hamas conflict and to secure the release of hostages from Gaza.
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Edited by Jesus Chan
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