Iranian fingerprints are all over Hamas' attack on Israel

By Struan Stevenson
Smoke rises above buildings in the southern Gaza Strip after an Israeli strike on Wednesday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI
1 of 3 | Smoke rises above buildings in the southern Gaza Strip after an Israeli strike on Wednesday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The sophistication of the Hamas attack on Israel, using motorized paragliders, drones and a combined air, sea and land invasion by heavily armed fighters, all under a coordinated barrage involving 5,000 missiles, bears the well-defined fingerprints of the Iranian regime.

It was certainly a massive failure by Israeli intelligence. But pundits who claim this was because Benjamin Netanyahu took his eye off the ball while he wrangled internally with political factions, are way off the mark. The intelligence services must surely operate at arms length from government. Their job is to advise on potential threats, not to ignore them until domestic political struggles are resolved.


Surely, four days before the Hamas invasion, someone in Israeli intelligence must have noticed the statement by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said: "The usurper regime is coming to an end. Today, the Palestinian youth and the anti-oppression, anti-occupation movement in Palestine is more energetic, more alive and more prepared than ever during the past 70 or 80 years. God willing, the movement will achieve its goals."


That should have rung the alarm bells in Jerusalem and TelAviv.

There is no way Hamas could have armed, trained and financed this assault without months of detailed preparation and assistance from Iran and Hezbollah. For years, the theocratic regime in Iran has been the main backer of the terrorist groups Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. But tough sanctions and a collapsing economy have put the brakes on the mullahs' aggressive adventurism in the Middle East.

That came to a sudden end with U.S. President Joe Biden's recent capitulation to Tehran's hostage diplomacy, when he released five convicted Iranian felons in a prisoner-swap deal with Tehran. By doing so, Biden may have set the scene for the Hamas invasion of Israel. The five Iranians were exchanged for four innocent U.S. and one British citizen, who had been held hostage in Iran, charged with trumped-up claims of spying.

The Biden administration's doleful act of appeasement was compounded by the release of $6 billion of frozen assets, returned to the clerical regime via a bank in Qatar. This windfall may have provided the missing link in Iran's plans to cover the cost of the Hamas attack. Accumulated debts to pay for the missiles, drones, motorized hang-gliders, technical support, military equipment, ammunition and Hamas fighters' wages could now be met, thanks to Biden.


Indeed, senior security officials from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps met with Hezbollah and Hamas in Beirut, Lebanon, on Oct. 2 to give the green light to the planned attack, titled "Al-Aqsa Storm."

For years, Iran has connived with Hamas to provide arms and equipment to Palestinian militants in the tiny Gaza Strip enclave, which is nestled between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Only six miles wide and 25 miles long, it is home to over 2 million Palestinians, 40% of whom are under age 15.

There is high unemployment, soaring poverty and deep resentment against neighboring Israel, which is regarded as an occupying force. Iran and Hezbollah have smuggled weapons and rocket manufacturing materiel to Gaza by sea, evading the Israeli blockade by dropping floatable items for Palestinian fishermen to pick up near the Gaza coast.

The border with Egypt is also often blocked, so that Hamas tries to smuggle goods in via a network of tunnels, some of which are so large that they have even been fitted with rail tracks. Although the tunnels have been repeatedly bombed by the Israelis, some are still active.


Officers from the IRGC have for years instructed Shiite resistance fighters in religion, revolutionary ideology and guerrilla tactics and provided weapons, funds, training and encouragement to Hamas and Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley.

Following the Hamas invasion, members of the Iranian Parliament chanted, "Death to Israel" and Khamenei's top military adviser and former IRGC senior commander, Yahya Rahim Safavi, said Tehran supported the attacks by Hamas against Israel. He commented: "We support the commendable 'Al-Aqsa Storm' operations and will continue to back the Islamist fighters until the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem."

Meanwhile, despite all the growing signs, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN: "We have not yet seen evidence that Iran directed or was behind this particular attack, but there is certainly a long relationship." ⁠Blinken's willful efforts to overlook anything that might prejudice his policy of appeasing the mullahs are shameful. The rising death toll in Israel and Gaza have exposed the fallacy of Western appeasement.

The Hamas attack is also a clear manifestation of the Iranian regime's hostility to countries in the Middle East who have signed the Abraham Accords on Arab Israeli normalization. Countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia may now have to think twice about improving relations with Israel in case it ignites a wider Middle East conflict.


Khamenei warned recently: "The position of the Islamic Republic is that countries that make the gamble of normalization with Israel will lose. They are betting on a losing horse." Hezbollah, has also linked the Hamas invasion with the Saudi rapprochement, saying in a statement the attack was a "decisive response to Israel's continued occupation and a message to those seeking normalization with Israel."

The West must not surrender to such threats and menaces. The Hamas-Israel war is a long overdue wake-up call. Iran is the arch aggressor.

Appeasement doesn't work. The criminal Iranian regime is behind every conflict in the Middle East, from Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon to Gaza and now Israel. They are behind the sponsorship of international terror abroad and brutal oppression at home. Now that the mullahs are supplying Russian President Vladimir Putin with kamikaze drones, it is clear that they have, for the first time, become involved in a major war on the European continent.

Surely this must be the tipping point for the West? Surely the time has come to close our embassies in Tehran and withdraw our ambassadors, while simultaneously expelling all Iranian diplomatic staff and their agents from Western nations? The focus of the West must now be on regime change in Iran and supporting the Iranian people. That is the only way to restore peace, freedom, justice and human rights to Iran and to the wider Middle East.


Struan Stevenson represented Scotland in the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014. He was president of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He serves as chair of the In Search of Justice committee on the protection of political freedoms in Iran. He is the coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change, an international lecturer on the Middle East, president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association and author of "Dictatorship and Revolution. Iran -- A Contemporary History."

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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