Hamas defends Iran and defies Israel

Radical Palestinian group Hamas vowed on Thursday to step up attacks against Israel if the Jewish state takes military action against Iran, and praised Iran's president for his "courageous" anti-Israeli outbursts.

"Just as Islamic Iran defends the rights of the Palestinians, we defend the rights of Islamic Iran. We are part of a united front against the enemies of Islam," Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal told in the Iranian capital.

"Each member of this front defends itself with its own means in its region. We carry the battle in Palestine. If Israel launches an attack against Iran, we will expand the battlefield in Palestine," he told a news conference.

"We are part of a united front, and if one member of this front is attacked it is our duty to support them."

Israel and the United States accuse Iran of using an atomic energy drive as a cover for weapons development, a charge that the Islamic republic denies.

Ahmadinejad has increased alarm in the West after calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and labeling the Jewish state as a "tumor" - comments that have earned him a rebuke from the UN Security Council.

On Wednesday he drew fresh condemnation for describing the massacre of millions of Jews during World War II as a "myth" and saying that Israel should be moved as far away from the Islamic world as Alaska.

"We congratulate Iran for its position in the Islamic world and in particular the statements of the supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] and President Ahmadinejad," said Meshaal, who has been in Iran since Tuesday.

On Iran's nuclear program, he said: "Even if Iran's program is military, what is the problem? Why do other countries like Israel have the right to have a nuclear weapon?"

Meshaal met on Tuesday with Iran's supreme leader, who urged Palestinians to continue resistance against Israel and not bother negotiating.

In the meanwhile Iran supports Palestinian resistance groups but denies that it is financing or arming them, AFP reports.


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