Hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza Mourn Iran's Soleimani

Leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad visit mourning tent ■ Israeli and American flags set on fire

Palestinian Hamas policemen stand guard next to posters of Qassem Soleimani in front of a mourning tent held by Palestinian factions in Gaza City, Jan. 4, 2020.
AP Photo/Khalil Hamra

Hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Saturday mourned the death of Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. air strike in Iraq.

Leaders of the Islamist Hamas group, which rules Gaza, and of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad faction, both backed by Iran, joined mourners at a tent erected in Soleimani's honor in the heart of Gaza City.

Flags of the United States and Israel were laid on the ground for visitors to tread on as they entered, passing murals of Soleimani. The flags were later set on fire.

>> The four critical questions after the assassination of Iran's Soleimani | Analysis ■ Overseas Black Ops units await Iran's signal to strike  By assassinating Soleimani, U.S. takes another step towards war with Iran | Analysis 

"We are loyal to those who stood with the resistance and with Palestine and we hold the U.S administration and the Zionist occupation fully responsible for the consequences of this deplorable crime," said Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official.

Palestinians burn representations of a U.S. flag and an Israeli flag during a protest against the killing of Qassem Soleimani, in Gaza on January 4, 2020.
REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Soleimani, 62, was the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' foreign legions. As head of the Quds Force, he was the architect of Iran's drive to spread its influence in the Middle East through proxy militias, some of them now operating on the doorstep of its arch-enemy Israel.

Israel, which defended the U.S. operation on Friday, has fought three wars with Hamas in the last decade, and in 2006 fought a brief war with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia across the Lebanese border.