Archive for the ‘Iran and Israel’ category

Hamas rockets are onset of anti-Israel war of attrition ordered by Iran’s Gen. Soleimani

December 14, 2017

Hamas rockets are onset of anti-Israel war of attrition ordered by Iran’s Gen. Soleimani, DEBKAfile, December 13, 2017

Tehran and the Lebanese Hizballah are eager to see Israel trapped in a rising spiral of military tension – and not just from its border with the Gaza Strip, but also at some point, emanating from new war fronts in Lebanon and Syria. At present, they are not looking for a comprehensive conflagration, but rather to subject Israel to a creeping war of attrition, like the couple of rockets which the Palestinians are firing night after night from the Gaza Strip. Like Chinese drip torture, this campaign is intended to torment Israel while gradually escalating. It doesn’t matter if they are inaccurate and fail to cause Israel casualties of damage. Indeed, one of the rockets fired Wednesday night exploded in an UNWRA school at Beit Hanoun inside the northern Gaza Strip, wrecking a schoolroom.

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The Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza Wednesday night, Dec. 13, were the 12th and 13th since US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision on Dec.6.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the daily rocket assault from Gaza is turning into a war of attrition declared by three Palestinian extremist groups, Hamas, the Jihad Islami and the Popular Resistance Committees, on the orders of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Al Qods external terrorist arm, and supreme commander of Iranian forces in the region. Our sources reveal that the order was given Monday in a phone conversation Soleimani held with Marwan Issa, commander of the Hamas armed wing, the Ezz e-din al-Qassam. It was the first direct, phone conversation between a high-ranking Iranian general and the Hamas commander and it was deliberately overt. The Iranians wanted the Israeli and Egyptian intelligence agencies eavesdropping on incoming and outgoing phone calls to and from Gaza to hear Soleimani pledge full Iranian support for any military action conducted against Israel.

Tehran and the Lebanese Hizballah are eager to see Israel trapped in a rising spiral of military tension – and not just from its border with the Gaza Strip, but also at some point, emanating from new war fronts in Lebanon and Syria. At present, they are not looking for a comprehensive conflagration, but rather to subject Israel to a creeping war of attrition, like the couple of rockets which the Palestinians are firing night after night from the Gaza Strip. Like Chinese drip torture, this campaign is intended to torment Israel while gradually escalating. It doesn’t matter if they are inaccurate and fail to cause Israel casualties of damage. Indeed, one of the rockets fired Wednesday night exploded in an UNWRA school at Beit Hanoun inside the northern Gaza Strip, wrecking a schoolroom.

The threat by Israel generals Wednesday night of painful retaliation if the rocket fire continues is therefore ineffective. Hamas and the Jihad Islami are fully prepared for a major war escalation, in the certainty that Iran and Hizballah have their backs.

Iran Looks to Seize Opportunity as Rivals Fall

December 13, 2017

Iran Looks to Seize Opportunity as Rivals Fall, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, December 13, 2017

(Please see also, Congress ignores Trump’s deadline on Iran nuclear deal. — DM)

Today, the Shi’ite axis is on the move. Iran is the mother ship, and its most prominent agent is Hizballah, which has more firepower at its disposal than most NATO members. The axis has tens of thousands of Shi’ite militia members active across Iraq and Syria. And it is preparing to expand.

The threat to international security posed by Iran far outweighs the one ever posed by ISIS.

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As it approaches victory in Syria with the help of Russian air power, Iran and its terrorist axis members are turning their attention to Israel, and trying to ignite fresh Palestinian violence.

Israel’s Channel 10 News reported on Monday evening that Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force foreign operations unit, called the leaders Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, urging them to escalate attacks on Israel.

“There is huge Iranian pressure on the Palestinian factions to begin a maneuver,” the Channel 10 report said. “And [Hizballah chief Hassan] Nasrallah is calling for a third intifada.”

It is a clear sign that, as the ISIS caliphate is erased from the map, another radical Islamist force is gaining strength, this one many times more powerful. Radical Shi’ite forces backed by Iran are moving into the vacuum left behind by ISIS.

With confidence growing due to battlefield victories in Syria and Iraq, Iran and its radical proxies are seeking to take over the Palestinian arena as well, increasing terrorism against Israel.

In a speech delivered from Hizballah’s south Beirut stronghold of Dahiya on Monday, Hassan Nasrallah said his organization – which has evolved into a hybrid guerilla-terrorist army – and its allies would renew their focus on the Palestinians, following “victories elsewhere in the region,” Reuters reported.

Thousands of followers chanted “death to Israel,” as Nasrallah promised assistance to armed Palestinian factions and called on them to keep up their conflict with Israel.

These developments are the latest signs of a regional shift, which has left the Iranian axis as the dominant radical Islamist force in the region.

Only a few years ago, the Middle East was the battleground involving four rival blocs:

1. The Iranian-Shi’ite axis

2. The Salafi-jihadist ISIS camp

3. The Muslim Brotherhood bloc, and

4. The pragmatic Sunni coalition.

Today, only the pragmatic Sunnis and the Iranian-Shi’ite axis remain as major regional forces.

ISIS is reverting back to a decentralized terror network, while the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is decimated.

Saudi Arabia leads the moderate Sunni coalition of states, which are allies of the United States. This bloc views Israel as an ally too, out of a recognition that Iran is its real enemy, not the Jewish State.

Today, the Shi’ite axis is on the move. Iran is the mother ship, and its most prominent agent is Hizballah, which has more firepower at its disposal than most NATO members. The axis has tens of thousands of Shi’ite militia members active across Iraq and Syria. And it is preparing to expand.

In recent days, a powerful Iranian-backed Iraqi militia member visited southern Lebanon, where Hizballah provided him with a tour of the Israeli border. The visit signals Iran’s intention to direct its regional assets against Israel.

Missiles, a nuclear program, and a growing terrorist influence

The core of the Shi’ite axis is the Islamic Republic of Iran itself, whose regime is guided by Shi’ite Islamist doctrine.

“The Islamic regime in Iran wants to fully implement the Islamic Shari’a. It will be the instrument that triumphs over the enemies of Islam,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei said last month.

Iran’s military industries are flush with cash, and they are mass producing powerful weapons. These arms don’t just stay in Iran – many are exported to Iran’s dangerous clients across the Middle East. . These are the forces moving into the vacuum left by Islamic State’s demise.

“I welcome the recent and great victories of the Islamic Revolution front against the front of lies and the destruction of the accursed regime of ISIS,” IRGC commander Mohammed Al Jafari said recently.

Iran wants to establish a continuous land corridor linking it to Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Such a corridor would enable Iran to move fighters and weapons from its border all the way to the Mediterranean coast. It would run parallel to the air corridor used by Iran to traffic weapons and fighters from Iran to Syria and Lebanon.

The Shi’ite axis monopolizes political and military power in Lebanon, via Hizballah, and uses its proxy forces to heavily influence Syria and Iraq.

In addition, it wields heavy influence in Yemen, where the IRGC supports the Ansar Allah radical Houthi group, which recently said it fired a cruise missile at a nuclear reactor in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The repeated use of surface-to-surface firepower by the Houthis against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia mimics tactics used by Hamas and Hizballah against Israel.

Terrorism under an Iranian nuclear umbrella?

The idea that the threat posed by the Iranian axis can be limited to the Middle East was recently disproven by Iran itself.

After European criticism of Iran’s ballistic missile program, officials threatened to increase Tehran’s ballistic missile ranges in order to reach Europe.

Israel, for its part, has vowed to stop the Iranian axis from taking over next-door Syria. A recent surge, according to media reports, of Israeli strikes on Iranian axis targets in Syria would seem to be evidence of Israel’s determination to challenge Iranian plans. Earlier this month, the strikes reportedly targeted an Iranian military base under construction south of Damascus, and the CERS weapons development and production site on the outskirts of the Syrian capital.

Yet the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, dormant for now, remains the elephant in the room.

A powerful Shi’ite axis operating under an Iranian nuclear umbrella would pose a new level of threat to global security. Iranian-run terrorist networks and armed forces could operate with impunity if the Iranians reactivate their nuclear sites in the future, which they intend to do.

The threat to international security posed by Iran far outweighs the one ever posed by ISIS.

Palestinian protests won’t swell into mass resistance so long as Arab rulers and Iran see no gain

December 9, 2017

Palestinian protests won’t swell into mass resistance so long as Arab rulers and Iran see no gain, DEBKAfile, December 9, 2017

All the same, it would be premature to completely rule out a major escalation being sparked by some unforeseen event. For instance, a cell of Tanzim, the armed wing of Abbas’ Fatah party, may decide to join Hamas, the Iranian-backed Jihad Islami and the extremist Popular Front – all of them with a long record of terrorism – for a spectacular terrorist attack on an Israeli or American target.  For the time being, there is no sign of this building up. The ordinary Palestinian man in the street has a job to go to on Sunday and appears to have settled on a moderate demonstration of protest for Trump’s Jerusalem strategy.

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The Palestinian Hamas finds itself shouting alone for a massive armed uprising, raising only muted echoes in the Arab world and the Palestinian street in protest at the US president’s Jerusalem decision. Most adult Palestinians, when asked, admit they see no point in sending their sons in harm’s way. Yet Israel’s mainstream media astonishingly report with great bombast every Hamas threat as though a world power is threatening World War III.

The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip have it in their power to unleash a barrage of rockets against their Israeli neighbors that would be damaging and lethal enough to trigger a major confrontation with Israel’s Defense Forces. They have done this before, but not so far now. In the exchange of blows Friday night, Dec. 8, Hamas clearly pulled its punches, showing that its rhetoric was just that. Smaller factions were allowed to fire off a few short-range rockets of low accuracy in the direction of Beersheba, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Israeli locations next door to the Gaza Strip. Most exploded on open ground or fell short while still in Gazan air space; one exploded harmlessly on a Sderot street and one was intercepted by an Iron Dome battery. Two Hamas activists were killed in Israeli retaliatory air strikes against three Hamas military facilities in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas leaders understand that their leeway for extreme action is narrower than ever before. They are a lone voice, are woefully short of funds, have no real backers in the Arab world and their popularity in the wider Palestinian community is waning.

By the time the anti-US, anti-Israel Palestinian protests reached their third day, Saturday, the following picture was taking shape:

The Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) decided against taking up Hamas’ call to arms when together they could have ignited a major conflagration. After all, President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital left in ruins the diplomatic campaign he led for years as his signature for unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood.

In the phone conversation he held with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday, shortly after Trump announced his decision on Jerusalem, Abu Mazen briefly considered joining the Hamas call for an extreme response. He pulled back when he realized that Haniyeh’s plan was to use the Jerusalem crisis as his pretext for hanging onto rule in the Gaza Strip. This would have wrecked the “reconciliation” deal in which Egypt invested long months as broker, in the hope of unifying the two Palestinian factions and bringing the Gaza Strip under Palestinian Authority rule. When Abu Mazen saw Haniyeh’s game, he backed away. The anti-Trump rallies in West Bank towns Thursday and Friday were consequently modest, compared with so many convulsions in the past.

Iran too pulled back from putting in its oar for inflaming Palestinian ire, because it has bigger fish to fry – even through Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah pushed hard for Tehran to instruct Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip to escalate the anti-Trump protest. Tehran’s attention is fixed on the turning-point in the Yemen civil war at Saudi Arabia’s back door, generated by the Revolutionary Guards success, in conjunction with Hizballah, to assassinate former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, after he switched sides from the Houthi insurgents to the Saudi-led coalition fighting them. The Houthis were then directed to wipe out the opposition by executing hundreds of officers and commanders loyal to Saleh.

The Palestinians are also small beer in the calculations of most members of the Arab League. Arab foreign ministers convened in Cairo Saturday, Dec. 9, for an “emergency session on Jerusalem.”  But it was summoned by the Palestinian Authority and one other Arab leader, Jordan’s King Abdullah, who has fallen out with most of his colleagues, badly enough for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, for instance, to cut of financial assistance to Amman.

Abu Mazen found Saudi Arabia and other senior Arab League members otherwise engaged. Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman was busy replacing Adel Al-Jubeir as foreign minister with his brother, Prince Khaled bin Salman, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi showed no interest in the session. Abbas quickly saw which way the wind was blowing in the Palestinians Arab hinterland.

In New York too, the emergency UN Secretary Council session on Jerusalem, after hearing the PA’s complaint against President Trump, ended with a joint expression of “disappointment” by the ambassadors of France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK. “We disagree with the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” they said. “The status of Jerusalem must be determined through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians leading to a final status agreement.” After that, the “disappointed” powers returned home.

All the same, it would be premature to completely rule out a major escalation being sparked by some unforeseen event. For instance, a cell of Tanzim, the armed wing of Abbas’ Fatah party, may decide to join Hamas, the Iranian-backed Jihad Islami and the extremist Popular Front – all of them with a long record of terrorism – for a spectacular terrorist attack on an Israeli or American target.  For the time being, there is no sign of this building up. The ordinary Palestinian man in the street has a job to go to on Sunday and appears to have settled on a moderate demonstration of protest for Trump’s Jerusalem strategy.

Islamic Scholars Gather to Discuss Destroying Israel

November 3, 2017

Islamic Scholars Gather to Discuss Destroying Israel, Washington Free Beacon, November 3, 2017

Children of members of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement hold portraits of Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah and Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei / Getty Images

Some 700 Islamic scholars gathered in Beirut, Lebanon this week to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration with a conference discussing the future of the movement to destroy Israel and featuring a message from Iranian leadership to attendees to keep fighting the “Zionist regime,” Arab media reported on Wednesday.

This was the second meeting of a group called the “International Union of Resistance Scholars,” attended by Shia and Sunni clerics of 80 countries, including the head of Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, according to reports.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, wrote a letter to the congress, urging, “all individuals, who feel the importance of this great responsibility [of freeing Palestine], to continue different methods of fighting against the usurper Zionist Regime.”

“Without a doubt, scholarly elites, clerics, and politicians, as well as the officials of Muslim countries carry the heavier part of this responsibility; this is a sacred and well-ending Resistance,” wrote Khamenei.

He called it a “holy fight” with certain victory promised against the “enemy Zionist entity.”

Khamenei tweeted further thoughts about the conference with the hashtag, in Arabic, #ZionistEntity.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of terror organization Hamas, spoke in Beirut to assure conference attendees that Israel has no future and that Hamas would continue to attack the country, according to reports.

This comes after Hamas was said to have moderated its stance on Israel when it dropped the call for Israel’s elimination from its charter earlier this year.

“The Gaza Strip has turned into a symbol of resistance against the occupying regime,” said Haniyeh.

Hamas has launched thousands of rockets and dug a network of “terror tunnels” into Israel from its Gaza base. The terror group has claimed its tunnel system is twice as large as the Viet Cong’s during the Vietnam War, with some tunnels extending hundreds of meters into Israel.

Sheikh Maher Hamoud, the chairman of the Resistance Scholars, said the conference should “serve as a turning point to pave the way for liberation of Occupied Palestine and it will echo the voice of oppressed Palestinians worldwide.”

“Just as the resistance succeeded in Lebanon and have conquered in Gaza several times so far, all of Israel’s other plots against the Resistance are doomed to failure,” said Hamoud.

Conference participants have reportedly come from as far as Malaysia and Nigeria.

Thursday marked 100 years since the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, its statement in support of establishing a “national home for the Jewish people” in Israel.

Palestinians and other anti-Israel activist have protested in the West BankLondon, and on collegecampuses, claiming Balfour was the beginning of Israeli “dispossession” of Palestinian land.

Hamas Rejoins Iran’s Terrorist Axis

October 26, 2017

Hamas Rejoins Iran’s Terrorist Axis, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, October 26, 2017

(Please see also, The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel. — DM)

One immediate result of the Iranian-Hamas reconciliation is the new Hamas outpost being built in Lebanon.

Lebanon is under the firm control of Iran’s proxy, Hizballah. It is now seeing the arrival of Hamas members who have set up a new command center. From there, Hamas could set up terrorist cells in the West Bank.

Hamas’ new presence in Lebanon could also be used to create a rocket-firing base, or cross-border terror cells operating from Lebanon, with Hizballah’s and Iran’s approval.

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Hamas is deepening its ties with Iran and its radical Shi’ite axis. Iranian cash is once again expected to fund Gaza’s war preparations and arms build-up program.

Before the 2011 outbreak of the war in Syria, Sunni Hamas and Shi’ite Iran were united by their goal to destroy Israel. Iran helped arm and fund Hamas’ terrorist-guerilla army in Gaza.

But the two fell out after finding themselves on opposite sides of the sectarian fence in the bloody Syria war. Iran, largely through its Lebanese proxy Hizballah, has committed troops and weapons to prop up dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

Now, out of cash and isolated, Hamas is in search of backing from a major regional power, and it is returning to Iran’s orbit.

The Iranians have been indicating that past fall-outs are history, and that Hamas will get all of the help it needs to prepare for future war against Israel. Israel’s intelligence community is closely monitoring these developments.

The Islamic Republic will grant Hamas “all assistance that it requests,” a senior Iranian official told the Lebanon-based Al Mayadin TV network, according to Israel’s Ynet website.

“Relations with Iran are excellent and Iran is the largest supporter of the [Hamas armed wing] Izz Al-Din Kassam Brigades with money and arms,” Hamas’ chief in Gaza, Yehya al-Sinwar said.

“The relationship today is developing and returning to what it was in the old days,” Sinwar told Reuters.

“This will be reflected in the resistance [against Israel] and in the agenda to achieve the liberation,” he said. “Liberation” is a reference to Hamas’ ideological long-term commitment to destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian-Islamist state.

One immediate result of the Iranian-Hamas reconciliation is the new Hamas outpost being built in Lebanon.

Lebanon is under the firm control of Iran’s proxy, Hizballah. It is now seeing the arrival of Hamas members who have set up a new command center. From there, Hamas could set up terrorist cells in the West Bank.

Hamas’ new presence in Lebanon could also be used to create a rocket-firing base, or cross-border terror cells operating from Lebanon, with Hizballah’s and Iran’s approval.

One of the Hamas members seen in Beirut recently is its No. 2 man, Saleh Al-Arouri. He has been responsible for remotely setting up terrorist cells in the West Bank. Until recently, Al-Arouri operated out of Hamas’ headquarters in Turkey.

Al-Arouri has been appointed Hamas deputy leader. He took part in a senior Hamas delegation to Iran earlier this month.

Those ties with Iran are one reason why Israel’s cabinet rejected recognition of a fledgling Hamas-Fatah unity government. Israel will not recognize the new Palestinian government until Hamas agrees to give up its weapons, recognize Israel, and cut links with Tehran.

“Our presence in Iran is the practical denial of the third precondition — cutting ties with Iran,” Arouri said. “Undoubtedly, the Palestinian resistance forces will never give up… their arms,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, praised Hamas’ stance. Khamenei’s representative congratulated Hamas “for declaring that you will not set your weapons aside,” according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

Renewed Iranian support probably will take the form of suitcases of cash entering Gaza via smuggling tunnels.

Some tunnels linking Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula remain, though many others have been demolished by Egypt.

Iranian know-how in producing rockets, RPGs, mortars, and drones will also, once again, be used to train Hamas engineers, who are in charge of Hamas’ domestic weapons industry.

Iranian guerilla combat doctrines, which already have influenced Hamas greatly, could also reappear in Gaza, in updated forms.

Iran might also try to smuggle materials to make weapons into Gaza via small fishing boats.

Hamas has been open and frank about its intentions in renewing Iranian sponsorship. A senior Hamas official said it was about securing “Iranian financial and logistical support,” according to the Agence France-Presse.

Hamas’ new relationship with Iran will displease Sunni Arab countries who, like Israel, view the Iranians and their regional destructive behavior as a top threat.

But this is a risk Hamas’ leadership is prepared to take in its quest to replenish cash supplies for its military and terrorist operations.

Hamas’s isolation – the force that drove it into Iran’s arms – is also what caused it to enter a reconciliation agreement with its arch Palestinian rival, Fatah.

Seeking to avoid a collapse of its regime in Gaza due to dwindling cash and energy resources, and under pressure from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who had been reducing Gaza’s electricity flow, Hamas decided to feign compromise with Fatah.

This is a short-term tactical move designed to serve the longer-term radical vision. Both Hamas and Iran would like to eventually use the Palestinian reconciliation to depose Fatah from power in the West Bank.

Hamas can be expected to use the coming years to build up its political power in the West Bank, Fatah’s home turf, and then try to take it over through elections. Hamas’s end goal is to create two armed fronts against Israel – from Gaza and the West Bank – with Iran creating the third and most potent third front from Lebanon, in the form of Hizballah.

Hamas and Iran still have their differences, but Hamas’s new leadership, and its distress stemming from isolation, have led it firmly back into Iran’s orbit. So long as Egypt remains under a government that is hostile to Islamists and jihadists, Hamas will continue to see Iran as its state backer, despite the Shi’ite-Sunni divide.

Meanwhile, a senior Hamas member with a history of funneling tens of millions of dollars from Iran to the organization’s military wing has recently been unveiled as a new top-level overseas liaison, according to Israel’s Kan television news service.

Maher Salah, a senior Hamas financier, recently appeared at a Turkish rally for the deceased Egyptian former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Mahdi Akef, in which he eulogized Akef as one who “loved jihad fighters and the jihad for Allah.”

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Salah, together with Al-Arouri, in 2015.

“The fate of your country is to pass from the world,” Salah said, addressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The fate of your kingdom is to be eliminated. I promise him that his country will not live to celebrate 100 years.”

Salah could use his ties in Iran to restart large-scale terrorist financing efforts.

The Gaza Strip is the quietest it has been in 30 years, and Hamas today remains deterred by Israel’s military might.

But its recent actions and statements show that Hamas is exploiting the ceasefire to gear up for long-term and destructive conflict with Israel. It is returning to Iran’s fold to help it in this effort.

Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.

Article In Saudi Daily Slams Hamas: It Has Founded An ‘Iranian Emirate’ In Gaza And Is Completely Subordinate To Iran’s Ayatollahs

October 25, 2017

Article In Saudi Daily Slams Hamas: It Has Founded An ‘Iranian Emirate’ In Gaza And Is Completely Subordinate To Iran’s Ayatollahs, MEMRI, October 25, 2017

(Please see also, The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel. — DM)

In an October 23, 2017 article in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, Saudi journalist and academic Baina Al-Mulhim leveled scathing criticism at Hamas. The article was written against the backdrop of the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Iran, reflected in a visit by a high-ranking Hamas delegation to Tehran and in statements by Hamas officials on the importance of tightening relations with Iran and of this country’s financial and political support of Hamas.[1] Al-Mulhim wrote that Hamas is experiencing a crisis of identity because, despite being a Sunni movement, it follows the Shi’ite Iranian model and has established an Iranian emirate in Gaza, and its leaders are completely subordinate to Iran’s ayatollahs. She added that Hamas, like Hizbullah, is not a resistance movement but rather a “contractor” implementing the Iranian agenda, and is exploiting the problems of the Palestinian people for political purposes.

The following are excerpts from her article:

The Hamas delegation meets with Iranian officials in Tehran (image: alray.ps, October 22, 2017)

“It has been only a short while since the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation [agreement] was signed, [during which] I wondered, in another article, if Hamas was really serious, and if the reconciliation would cause it to return to its sanity and Arabhood… [yet] behold, just days ago [a report] was published about a Hamas delegation headed by Salah Al-‘Arouri, deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau, that arrived in Tehran last Friday [October 20, 2017] for a meeting with Iranian officials, as confirmed by a Hamas official… The official, who asked to remain unnamed, disclosed that the high-ranking delegation included several [other] members of Hamas’s political bureau, and that it was to meet with several Iranian officials over several days. He stated that the purpose of the visit was ‘to inform the Iranian officials about the reconciliation agreement signed by Hamas and Fatah, and about [recent] political developments,’ adding that the delegation would also discuss ‘ways to strengthen and develop the bilateral relations between Hamas and Iran and ensure Iran’s financial and political support of the movement, as well as [its assistance in] weapons.’ Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, likewise stressed that ‘Iran is the greatest supporter of the Al-Qassam Brigades,’ Hamas’s military wing, ‘in terms of weapons, money and training.’

“As is known, Iran is patron, for political purposes, of Sunni movements that maintain views that are radical in nature, among them Hamas. No one disagrees that political support is one thing and sectarian support is another. One of the paradoxes that should give pause to anyone who has tried in the past to justify Hamas is that Iran is supporting the [Sunni] Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt more than it is supporting the Shi’ite Da’wa Party in Iraq.

“In Gaza, Hamas has established an Iranian emirate that is completely subject to the Ayatollah [i.e. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei]. We have not forgotten [Hamas leader] Khaled Mash’al’s October 1, 2011 speech at Khamenei’s palace, which was basically a reiteration his loyalty and obedience [to Iran]. Mash’al was, after all, no more and no less than a clerk to Iran’s ayatollahs!

“The problem of ideological movements, such as Hizbullah and Hamas – which have marketed themselves as resistance movements while, according to the political path both have taken… are nothing but ‘contractors’ [for Iran] – is that their leveraging of in their people’s problems for political, economic, and material purposes is the dominant pattern of behavior in their activity and positions. This is proven by their position on the revolution in Syria – which corresponds to that of their patron, Iran!

“Hamas is experiencing an internal crisis – a crisis more of identity than political – vis-à-vis the Arabs or vis-à-vis several Arab countries, headed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. [Hamas] fears both these countries, [and] chose Iran not because it [Hamas] is an outcast – as those who defend its [pro-]Iran position try to claim – but because Hamas considers Iran a model it aspires [to emulate] when it establishes an Islamic emirate in Gaza.

“Hamas’s return to the [bosom of the] Iranian regime, as evident from its visit [to Tehran] – when it knows full well that the path of return to the Arab [fold] passes only through Saudi Arabia – sends a message, that Hamas is still ‘marching in place.'”[2]

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[1] On the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Iran, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No.7144, Alongside Reconciliation With Fatah, Hamas Officials Tighten Relations With Iran, Call To ‘Wipe Israel Off The Map’, October 23, 2017.

[2] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), October 23, 2017.

The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel

October 23, 2017

The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel, Gatestone InstituteKhaled Abu Toameh, October 23, 2017

Abbas and the Egyptians were probably naïve to think that Hamas would disarm and allow Abbas loyalists to deploy in the Gaza Strip after the signing of the “reconciliation” agreement. It is possible that some of the Hamas leaders had lied to Abbas and the Egyptians by hinting that Hamas would give up security control of the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptians, who played a major role in brokering the Hamas-Fatah deal, are also believed to be worried about Iran’s renewed meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. Both the Palestinian Authority and Egypt see the visit of the Hamas delegation to Iran as a serious setback to the “reconciliation” agreement and as a sign that Hamas is not sincere about implementing the accord.

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Iran’s goal in this move? For Hamas to maintain and enhance its preparation for war against Israel.

Iran’s message to Hamas: If you want us to continue providing you with financial and military aid, you must continue to hold on to your weapons and reject demands to disarm.

Iran wants Hamas to retain its security control over the Gaza Strip so that the Iranians can hold onto another power base in the Middle East, as it does with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In a historic reawakening, Iran is once again meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. This does not bode well for the future of “reconciliation” between Hamas and Palestinian Authority’s Fatah faction run by President Mahmoud Abbas.The re-emergence of Iran, as it pursues its efforts to increase its political and military presence in the region, does not bode well for the future of stability in the Middle East.

The Iranians are urging Hamas to hold on to its weapons in spite of the recent “reconciliation” agreement signed between Hamas and Fatah under the auspices of Egypt. Iran’s goal in this move? For Hamas to maintain and enhance its preparation for war against Israel.

A high-level Hamas delegation headed by Saleh Arouri, deputy chairman of Hamas’s “political bureau,” traveled to Tehran last week to brief Iranian leaders on the “reconciliation” deal with Fatah. During the visit, Iranian leaders praised Hamas for resisting demands (by Fatah) to disarm and relinquish security control over the Gaza Strip.

“We congratulate you on your refusal to abandon your weapons, an issue that you consider as a red line,” Ali Velayati, a senior Iranian politician and advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei, told the visiting Hamas officials. “The Palestinian cause is the most important cause of the Islamic world, and after all this time you remain committed to the principle of resistance against the Zionists despite all the pressure you are facing.”

During the visit of a high-level Hamas delegation to Iran last week, Ali Velayati (pictured above in 2016), a senior Iranian politician and advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the visiting Hamas officials: “We congratulate you on your refusal to abandon your weapons…” (Image source: Hamed Malekpour/Wikimdia Commons)

Arouri and his colleagues rushed to Tehran to seek the support of the Iranian regime in the wake of demands by Abbas that Hamas allow the Palestinian Authority to assume security control over the Gaza Strip. The “reconciliation” agreement stipulates nothing about the need for Hamas to disarm, and Hamas officials have stressed during the past two weeks that they have no intention of laying down their weapons or dismantling their security apparatus in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas views the demand to disarm as part of an Israeli-American “conspiracy” designed to eliminate the Palestinian “resistance” and thwart the “reconciliation” accord with Abbas’s Fatah. Hamas’s refusal to disarm is already threatening to spoil the “reconciliation.”

Arouri was quoted during his visit to Tehran as saying that Hamas “will not backtrack on the option of defending the Palestinian people.” He specified that the “reconciliation” agreement with Fatah would not affect the weapons of the Palestinian “resistance,” including Hamas. Hamas, he added, will “confront the Israeli-American conspiracy through national unity and reconciliation and by continuing the resistance. The Palestinian resistance forces will always stick to their weapons and will not lay them down.”

Hamas also sees the visit of its top officials to Tehran as a rejection of Israel’s demand that it cut off its ties with Iran. Hamas officials say they continue to see their relations with Iran as “strategic and significant,” especially in wake of Tehran’s financial and military aid to their movement in the Gaza Strip.

By aligning itself with Iran, Hamas is also seeking to resist any demand that it abandon its ideology and charter, which call for the destruction of Israel and oppose any peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

Iranian officials apparently do not like Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and are not keen on seeing them return to the Gaza Strip. Iran considers Abbas a “traitor” because his Palestinian Authority conducts security coordination with Israel in the West Bank and claims that it is committed to a “peace process” with Israel. This position goes against Iran’s wish to destroy the “Zionist entity.”

Abbas, for his part, has always considered Iran a threat to his regime as well as to stability in the region. In the past, he has criticized Iran for “meddling” in the internal affairs of the Palestinians by supporting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority strongly condemned Iran after a senior Iranian official accused Abbas of waging war in the Gaza Strip on behalf of Israel. The official’s statement came in response to a series of punitive measures imposed by Abbas on the Gaza Strip.

Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, accused Iran of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and some Arab countries. He said that Iran’s actions “encouraged divisions” among the Palestinians. “Iran must stop feeding civil wars in the Arab world,” he said. “Iran must stop using rhetoric that only serves Israel and the enemies of the Arabs.”

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are now convinced that Iran is working towards foiling the “reconciliation” agreement with Hamas. They believe that Iran invited the Hamas leaders to Tehran to pressure them not to lay down its weapons.

Abbas and the Egyptians were probably naïve to think that Hamas would disarm and allow Abbas loyalists to deploy in the Gaza Strip after the signing of the “reconciliation” agreement. It is possible that some of the Hamas leaders had lied to Abbas and the Egyptians by hinting that Hamas would give up security control of the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptians, who played a major role in brokering the Hamas-Fatah deal, are also believed to be worried about Iran’s renewed meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. Both the Palestinian Authority and Egypt see the visit of the Hamas delegation to Iran as a serious setback to the “reconciliation” agreement and as a sign that Hamas is not sincere about implementing the accord.

Some Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials have recently claimed that Israel was not happy with their “reconciliation” agreement and was doing its utmost to foil it. The truth, however, is that it is Iran and Hamas that are working to thwart the agreement by insisting on maintaining the status quo in the Gaza Strip. Iran’s message to Hamas: If you want us to continue providing you with financial and military aid, you must continue to hold on to your weapons and reject demands to disarm.

What is in it for Iran? Iran wants Hamas to retain its security control over the Gaza Strip so that the Iranians can hold onto another power base in the Middle East.

Iran wants Hamas to continue playing the role of a proxy, precisely as Hezbollah functions in Lebanon.

The last thing Iran wants is for the Palestinian Authority security forces to return to the Gaza Strip: that would spoil Tehran’s plans to advance its goal of destroying Israel.

Iran’s continued support for Hamas stems not out of love for either Hamas or the Palestinians, but from its own interest in consolidating its presence in the Middle East.

Many Palestinians see the “successful” visit of the Hamas officials to Tehran as a major setback for efforts to end the 10-year-long Hamas-Fatah dispute. Similarly, the Egyptians are now wary of the sudden rapprochement between Iran and Hamas and are beginning to ask themselves whether they have been duped by Hamas. An Israeli delegation that visited Cairo on the eve of the signing of the Hamas-Fatah deal is said to have warned the Egyptians that the “reconciliation” would not work unless Hamas disarms and severs its ties with Iran. However, the Egyptians reportedly failed to listen to the Israeli warning.

As for Israel, the US and other Western parties, the lesson to be drawn from the renewal of ties between Hamas and Iran is that Hamas has not changed one iota.

Contrary to delusional hopes, discussed on the heels of the “reconciliation” agreement in Cairo and based on lies and thin air, Hamas is not headed toward moderation and pragmatism. By openly supporting Hamas, Iran is once again demonstrating that it aims to fan the fire in the Middle East and continue to sabotage any prospects for peace.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.