ANALYSIS: Iranian Regime’s Role in Ongoing Terrorist Attacks on Israel

by EditorK

Days before the attack, Iran’s Supreme Leader called for the eradication of the ‘Zionist regime’ which he described as a ‘cancer.’

ANALYSIS: Iranian Regime’s Role in Ongoing Terrorist Attacks on Israel

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi greets media representatives after a press conference in Tehran, on Aug. 29, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)

Naveen Athrappully
Updated:October 9, 2023

The Islamic terrorist group that carried out the surprise attack on Israel over the weekend receives funding and equipment from Iran, a country that has sent billions of dollars over the years to its terror proxies toward its stated goal of the destruction of the Jewish state.

On Oct. 7, a military wing of Iran-backed Hamas launched an unprovoked attack on Israel, infiltrating the country. The gunmen rampaged for hours, gunning down civilians in towns, along highways, and at a techno music festival being held in the desert near Gaza. More than 600 individuals are estimated to have been killed, with thousands injured, and an undetermined number of citizens and soldiers abducted, according to Israeli media.

The Izzuddin Al-Qassam Brigades (IQB), which carried out the attack, praised Iran for its support.

“We thank the Islamic Republic of Iran who provided us with weapons, money, and other equipment!” a spokesperson of IQB says in a video clip being shared on social media. “He gave us missiles to destroy Zionist fortresses and helped us with standard anti-tank missiles!”

It is unclear when the statement was made.

The Hamas attack followed just days after Iran’s supreme leader, Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, called for violence against Israel.

“Imam Khomeini once described the usurper Zionist regime as a cancer,” he said in an Oct. 3 post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This cancer will definitely be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people.”

IQB shared video clips on Oct. 7 showing several of its fighters inside Israeli military sites. It’s the largest and best-equipped Hamas group operating in Gaza and has taken part in several wars against Israel.

Hamas is a Sunni—one of Islam’s major sects—terrorist organization, which was founded in 1988 as a spinoff of the larger Muslim Brotherhood.

Iran uses Hamas, which is based in the Gaza Strip, to launch attacks against Israel. With Tehran’s help, Hamas has built a long network of underground tunnels in the region and under the Israel–Gaza border to conceal weapons as well as house kidnapped Israeli civilians.

Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chief of Hamas’s political bureau, told Al Jazeera in an interview that enough Israeli soldiers were captured from the Oct. 7 attack to force Israeli authorities to free all Palestinian prisoners it has in custody.

“Our detainees in [Israeli] prisons, their freedom is looming large,” he said. “What we have in our hands will release all our prisoners. The longer fighting continues, the higher the number of prisoners will become.”

Iran’s Support for Hamas, Hezbollah

Iranian leaders who are extremely hostile towards Israel and have vowed repeatedly to wipe the country off the map, have hosted numerous meetings in the past few months, calling for renewed and united action against Israel, according to Washington-based research nonprofit Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

“Since 1992, the regime in Iran has invested billions of dollars in providing cash, arms, and training to Hamas, which has openly allied with the Iranian leadership. The two share not only a radical Islamist ideology but also a belief that Israel should be annihilated,” said Hussain Abdul-Hussian, an FDD research fellow, according to an Oct. 7 post by the nonprofit.

“The events unfolding in southern Israel are the consequence of the Iranian regime’s longstanding supply of weaponry and funding to Palestinian terrorist groups operating in the Gaza Strip,” FDD research analyst Joe Truzman said. “Iran has also extended its backing to terrorist organizations in various other regions, including Lebanon, the West Bank, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.”

Following the Hamas attack on Israel, Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant group in Lebanon, targeted Israeli military positions in the disputed Shebaa Farms region, stating that the action was taken “in solidarity” with the Palestinian people. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded by attacking Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.

Hezbollah is a Shia—another major Islamic sect—militant organization. It was established during Lebanon’s 1975–1990 civil war, founded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982 to expand its Islamist ideology and fight Israeli forces that invaded Lebanon.

On Oct. 7, Hezbollah said that it was in “direct contact” with leaders of “resistance” groups in Palestine, calling Hamas’s attack in Israel a “decisive response to Israel’s continued occupation and a message to those seeking normalization with Israel,” according to Reuters.

“Iran has built a network of at least 19 armed groups on Israel’s borders, including in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria,” FDD asserts, based on its tracker.

The largest of these organizations are Hamas and Hezbollah. FDD claims that Iran annually sends around $100 million to Hamas and $700 million to Hezbollah.

Biden Administration’s Role

Hamas’s attack on Israel was condemned by President Joe Biden.

“The United States unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza,” he said in a statement.

“Israel has a right to defend itself and its people. The United States warns against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation. My administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.”

Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, as seen from Ashkelon in southern Israel, on Oct. 8, 2023. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, as seen from Ashkelon in southern Israel, on Oct. 8, 2023. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump blamed President Biden’s policies for the attack.

“Joe Biden betrayed Israel,” he told a large crowd on Oct. 7 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “I predicted war in Israel immediately after it was announced that Joe Biden gave the $6 billion to Iran.”

President Trump insisted that the United States and Israel needed “a very strong partnership.”

The $6 billion that President Trump referred to are Iranian funds held in South Korea. Since 2019, the funds have been kept in the Asian country after the United States placed sanctions on Tehran. The Biden administration recently entered into an agreement with Iran to grant Tehran access to the $6 billion, in exchange for releasing five U.S. hostages.

“This decision will be extremely deadly. Biden is giving $6 billion to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. … Biden’s ransom payment will be immediately used to stoke violence, bloodshed, and mayhem throughout the Middle East and all around the world, costing countless innocent lives,” President Trump had warned in August.

In the wake of the deadly attack, President Biden’s move to unfreeze the $6 billion in Iranian assets is being severely criticized.

“One month ago, Trump predicted the $6 Billion that Biden gave Iran would be used for terror attacks across the Middle East and specifically kidnapping,” conservative TV host Jack Posobiec said in an Oct. 7 post on X. “This is exactly what we are seeing in Israel this morning.”

“Israel is now under attack by Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in an Oct. 7 X post. “Iran has helped fund this war against Israel and Joe Biden’s policies that have gone easy on Iran have helped fill their coffers.”

According to FDD, the Biden administration’s policies have “strengthened and emboldened” the regime in Iran. While Biden officials claim that the $6 billion funds can only be used for humanitarian purposes, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has said that the country will spend its money however it deems fit.

“Regardless, money is fungible, so the cash Iran receives frees up other budgetary resources to sponsor terrorism,” FDD said.

Saudi, China Angle

Hamas’s attack, which led Israel to declare that it’s at war, complicates U.S. efforts to broker a deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

People assess the damage in a street in Tel Aviv, after it was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

People assess the damage in a street in Tel Aviv, after it was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

In a statement following the attack, Saudi Arabia took a pro-Palestinian approach, stating that the situation in the region might escalate “as a result of the continued occupation, the deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights, and the repetition of systematic provocations against its sanctities,” according to The Times of Israel.

Joost Hiltermann, Middle East director of the International Crisis Group, told Barron’s in an interview that the Hamas attack may have partly been triggered due to concern about “looming further marginalization of the Palestinian cause in Palestinian eyes” should Saudi–Israel normalization take place.

With Israel responding forcefully, Arab states may feel obligated to take a harder stance against Israel to support public sentiment, he said.

“If that all happens, then I would foresee a scenario where, just like we have a cold peace between Israel and Jordan, between Israel and Egypt, we end up with a cooling of the relationship between Israel and the Emirates and probably a delay, at least, of any sort of deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Meanwhile, a statement by the Chinese regime about the attack has irked Israeli officials.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Oct. 7 urged the two parties to remain calm, insisting that resolving the conflict may require “implementing the two-state solution and establishing an independent State of Palestine,” according to Reuters.

In response, Yuval Waks, a senior official at the Israeli Embassy in Beijing, said that they expected to see from China a “stronger condemnation” of Hamas.

“When people are being murdered, slaughtered in the streets, this is not the time to call for a two-state solution,” Mr. Waks said.


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