General Qassem Soleimani is a "martyr of Quds" for he devoted his life to supporting the Palestinian people's struggle against Israel and his assassination by the United States is in many ways similar to crimes committed by the Israeli regime, says Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh.
General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), was assassinated in a US strike in Baghdad on Friday, alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's pro-government Hashd al-Sha'abi forces.
A huge sea of mourners, streaming from all the adjoining streets, descended on the iconic Engelab Square in central Tehran early Monday morning and rallied to Azadi Tower in the capital's west as they chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei led the prayers over the general's coffin and the remains of his companions at Tehran University, his voice cracking several times with emotion which caused the massive crowd to weep.
Speaking at the funeral procession in Tehran on Monday, Haniyeh condemned the US strike, which was personally authorized by President Donald Trump.
"We have come to Iran to condole with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei, the Iranian government and nation," Haniyeh said.
"He [Gen. Soleimani] was the commander of the IRGC Quds Force and he is a martyr of Quds," the Hamas official said.
Haniyeh also sent condolences to General Soleimani's family and described him as one of the "flag-bearers of resistance against Zionist and American plots."
Haniyeh said he was in Iran "to express our true and sincere feelings about a dear brother and a martyred commander - a commander who made many sacrifices for Palestine and the resistance until he achieved the position he has today."
Haniyeh said this "brutal crime" by the Americans is representative of the "criminal mentality" that is at work in the occupied Palestinian lands.
"The criminal mentality that led to Commander Soleimani's assassination and martyrdom is the same mentality that drives the minds of the Zionist regime's thugs, the same mentality and policy that assassinates and kills Palestinians every day," he said.
He said Hamas owes its current prowess to General Soleimani's wisdom. The Palestinian resistance, he said, won't back away from combating Israel and the fight will continue "until we purge all enemies from the noble Quds."
Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, who was named the new Quds commander by the Leader on Friday, said in a statement that Iran will no doubt avenge the assassination.
"Steps will be definitely taken" to avenge General Soleimani's blood, which Qaani said has set in motion a series of steps that will lead to America's expulsion from the region.
Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the IRGC's Aerospace Division, echoed the remarks and said the only possible revenge for General Soleimani's blood would be the total "elimination" of America from the region.
Launching a few missiles, destroying a base or even Trump's death will not sufficiently avenge the blood of such a martyr, General Hajizadeh asserted, adding "the oppressed nations of the region will have to be rid of America's evil."