Hundreds of Palestinian terrorists underwent “specialised combat training” in Iran weeks before the Hamas terror group’s murderous onslaught against Israel, according to a report last week in The Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper, citing “people familiar with intelligence” surrounding the brutal massacre on October 7 – in which 1400 Israelis, mostly civilians, were murdered – reported that 500 members of both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic took part in training last month led by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Israel has repeatedly accused Iran of being a key force behind the coordinated Hamas attack, in which it succeeded in disabling the high-tech Gaza border fence and streaming across the border to carry out its devastating assault on nearby communities, which included taking at least 224 people hostage.
Iran has welcomed the Hamas assault, but denies it played a role in its planning. According to the WSJ report, Iranian Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani, the head of Quds Force, attended the training activities led by the IRGC.
Hours before the report was published, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari pointed a finger directly at Iran for helping to plan the brutal attack.
Hagari said at a press conference that Iran had directly aided Hamas “before the war, with training, supplying weapons, money and technological know-how”. Even now, he added, “Iranian aid to Hamas continues in the form of intelligence and online incitement against the State of Israel.”
Meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron last Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu echoed comments he has made to other visiting world leaders – that Israel is facing an “axis of evil, led by Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthis, their minions who are fighting to bring back the Middle East, the world, to the early Middle Ages”.
The WSJ has also reported that Iranian security officials “gave the green light” for the assault at a meeting in Beirut five days before October 7, citing senior members of Hamas and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.
But US officials pushed back against that report, saying its intelligence did not show a direct link between Iranian officials and the attack, while noting that Tehran is a long-time backer of Hamas.
In comments to the UN Security Council last Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that it “is no secret” that “for years, Iran has supported Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and other groups that continue to carry out attacks on Israel”.
In response, Iran’s permanent representative to the United Nations Amir Saeid Iravani lashed out at Blinken for what he called his attempt to “wrongly place the blame on Iran”.
“Iran categorically rejects these groundless allegations,” Iravani said.
A week earlier, Blinken said that the US does not have “direct evidence that Iran was involved in the attack, either in planning it or carrying it out. But that could change”.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last Wednesday accused the US of “directing” strikes that Israel has been carrying out on Hamas, calling the US “a definite accomplice of criminals” in a speech in Tehran.
“The United States is in some way directing the crime that is being committed in Gaza,” he said, suggesting the hands of Americans “were tainted with the blood of the oppressed, children, patients, women and others”.
Tehran has threatened Israel that the region could spiral “out of control” if the war in Gaza continues.
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