Senior Iranian officials including a top aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday boasted that Tehran had supplied Hamas with military aid to use against Israel. The comments, conveyed by the officials on Arabic-language television, are the latest in a series of provocative comments from Iranian officials, who have increasingly vocalized the Islamic republic’s support for Hamas over the course of Operation Protective Edge.
Last month Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told state-run television that Tehran provided Gaza’s jihadist groups with “arms manufacture know-how.” Khamenei last month, speaking at the end of the Ramadan holiday, called for “punishment” for the “evil, filthy and merciless Zionist regime.”
The Wall Street Journal on Sunday noted that relations between the terror group that controls Gaza and the Islamic republic, which in recent years had become strained, had recently warmed:
Relations between Hamas and Iran, historically one of its chief benefactors, grew strained in the past few years. But the two sides have moved recently to repair the relationship, particularly in response to the nearly one-month-old Gaza conflict, according to Hamas and Iranian officials.
The escalation was seen by some observers as an effort by Hamas to get back into Iran’s good graces:
If Iran is not in fact driving the campaign, then Hamas may be putting on a demonstration for Tehran of how helpful it can be to the Islamic Republic. With Hezbollah tied down in Syria fighting alongside Assad, Hamas is more useful to Iran than ever—especially since Hamas is now in possession of long-range missiles capable of striking anywhere inside Israel, making it another tool of Iranian deterrence should the Israelis consider striking Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities.
Iran has also provided constant support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which the Journal described as “almost solely a creation of Iran and the Revolutionary Guard” and which has long relied on the Islamic republic for advanced training and materials.
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