JERUSALEM – Hamas, whose gunmen have openly admitted in the past to being trained by Iran, today strongly denied claims it is involved in cracking down on protesters in Tehran.
“These accusations are completely untrue,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told WND.
Mushir-al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman and parliamentarian, told WND, “This is nonsense and doesn’t deserve any response.”
Other Hamas members contacted by WND, including the group’s chief political adviser in Gaza, Ahmed Yousef, denied the accusations as well.
A top Hamas member, speaking to WND on condition his name be withheld, stated, “The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are the best in the world at cracking down on protests. Why would they need help from the movement (Hamas)? It’s a ridiculous claim.”
Multiple reports quoted witnesses in Iran claiming Hamas was behind attacks on protesters there.
The Jerusalem Post today quoted two Iranian protesters stating Palestinian Hamas members were helping the Iranian authorities crush street protests. Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper carried a similar report.
Other reports in Voice of America and Germany’s Der Spiegel claimed as many as 5,000 members of the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group were in Iran, where they were being used to control the protesters. The Hezbollah members are often easily identified by their screams in Arabic, claimed Der Spiegel.
Speaking of Hamas’ alleged involvement in crushing the protests, one rioter in Tehran was quoted by Der Spiegel stating, “My brother had his ribs beaten in by those Palestinian animals. Taking our people’s money is not enough – they are thirsty for our blood too.”
When asked if Hamas could have been mistaken for Hezbollah, the rioter was quoted responding: “Ask anyone, they will tell you the same thing. [Palestinian extremists] are out beating Iranians in the streets. … The more we gave this arrogant race, the more they want. … We will not let them push us around in our own country.”
Protests continue despite warnings
Earlier today, protests continued despite strong warning by Iran’s security forces against any more rioting. Security forces reportedly attacked hundreds of demonstrators with tear gas and fired live bullets in the air to disperse a rally in central Tehran.
Witnesses there told news agencies police were not allowing anyone to stand still, asking civilians to keep on walking and separating people who were walking together in attempts to quell the protests.
“There is a massive, massive, massive police presence,” a witness reportedly told the Associated Press by telephone. “Their presence was really intimidating.”
Iran says at least 17 protesters have been killed in a week of unrest so far after the electoral council declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winner of elections 10 days ago. His main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, charged the election was a fraud, with his followers staging near-daily rallies.
CNN reported at least 19 people were killed as of Saturday based on eyewitness accounts of medical officials in Teheran’s hospitals. CNN also quoted unconfirmed reports that put the actual death toll as of yesterday at 150.
Today Britain said it was evacuating the families of diplomats and other officials based in Iran, the first country to do so as Iran’s worst internal conflict since the 1979 Islamic Revolution escalated. Iran accused Britain of fomenting the protests.