Representatives of Hamas and Iran met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow on Thursday to discuss foreign hostages being held by the terrorist organization in Gaza. The Hamas delegation was led by one of the group’s founders, Mousa Abu Marzook, and was joined by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani.

The Kremlin’s decision to host the talks opens the door to destructive consequences for already strained Russian-Israeli relations.

Bogdanov had contacted Marzook last month to try to arrange a meeting about the half-dozen Russian nationals who are among the estimated 220 taken hostage by Hamas in Gaza earlier this month. Initially, Bogdanov had proposed a meeting in Qatar, where Marzook is exiled. He said the meeting “would be useful for solving practical issues, including the freeing of hostages.”

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The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “Abu Marzook, a member of the political bureau of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, is in Moscow. Contact with him took place in pursuit for the immediate release of foreign hostages held in the Gaza Strip, and issues related to ensuring the evacuation of Russian and other foreign citizens from the territory of the Palestinian enclave were discussed.”

The Hamas delegation also included Basem Naim, the group’s former health minister in Gaza.

This is the third time this year that Russian officials have met with delegations from Hamas. Kremlin leadership regularly meets with representatives from Iran, a strong ally and trading partner of Moscow amid the international sanctions slapped on Russia, and Iran is Hamas’ chief sponsor.

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This latest encounter has infuriated Jerusalem, as more that 1,400 Israelis and foreigners were slaughtered in Hamas’s attack on Oct. 7.

“Israel sees the invitation of senior Hamas officials to Moscow as an obscene step that gives support to terrorism and legitimizes the atrocities of Hamas terrorists,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said, according to the Times of Israel. The ministry called on Moscow to immediately expel the Hamas leaders.

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Until now, Moscow had been careful not to overtly offend Israel, the Associated Press noted on Wednesday, before the news of the Hamas meeting was released.

“Russia has issued carefully calibrated criticism of both sides in the war between Hamas and Israel,” the AP wrote. “It also expects the Hamas-Israel war to distract attention from the fighting in Ukraine and erode support for Kyiv.

“There are risks for Moscow, however. It could damage its relationship with Israel, which until now has kept it from sending weapons to Ukraine.”

On Wednesday, Amir Weitmann, the head of the libertarian caucus in Israel's ruling Likud Party, promised that the Russians will pay for their complacency in shedding Israeli blood by working with Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

“We will destroy Hamas and then we will make sure Ukraine wins against Russia,” Weitmann said.

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