Iran just as responsible as Hamas for attack on Israel

There’s still much that we don’t know about the Hamas massacre. But what we do know is as outrageous as it is unsurprising: Iran is also responsible. 

The Islamic dictatorship has armed, funded to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, and otherwise assisted Hamas over many years. That is a universally recognized fact, acknowledged by the U.S. State Department and by the regime itself. Now, at least 25 American citizens are dead: murdered, brutally, by Iran’s terrorist force on the Gaza Strip. Others have been taken hostage. America must now respond: to restore deterrence, neutralize the Iranian terror threat, and prevent further carnage.

The latest report on Iran’s involvement, via the Wall Street Journal, says that U.S. intelligence analysts believe that while the regime knew about Hamas’s plan to carry out attacks against Israel, it was not briefed on their timing or scope. That follows another report from the paper quoting Hezbollah and Hamas leaders as saying that Iran was so deeply involved in the planning that its foreign minister took part in coordinating meetings in Lebanon and ultimately gave the green light for the operation to move forward.

The Washington Post reported Monday that intelligence sources believe the attack “bore hallmarks of Iranian support” including training, funding, logistical support, and technical assistance in manufacturing weapons from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah.

But the Biden administration and the Israeli government have avoided linking Tehran too directly to the terrorist plot. The line out of the White House, pushed by national-security adviser Jake Sullivan, is that Iran is “complicit” but that the U.S. does not have evidence of a direct Iranian hand in the plots.

Whatever the exact nature of Iran’s complicity, it’s undeniable that without Tehran’s support, Hamas would not have been capable of carrying out this attack as it did. There’s also no doubt about the regime’s frankly eliminationist intent, as indicated by its financing and arming of Hamas — and the Ayatollah Khamenei’s comments as his proxies executed Israelis along the border with Gaza.

“God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the Resistance forces throughout the region,” he wrote on Twitter as the attacks unfolded. More recently, he has denied any Iranian role, while cheering on the terrorists from the sidelines: “Of course, the entire Islamic world is obliged to support the Palestinians, and God willing they will support them,” he said this week, while he issued a denial that Iran was involved at all.

At the end of the day, the buck stops with Tehran, whether the country’s leadership coordinated Hamas’s planning and approved the killings, was briefed on some aspects of it, or just funded the terrorist group with the understanding that it would one day carry out attacks of this nature.

An appropriate U.S. response starts with reversing Team Biden’s Iran rapprochement program, officially firing Iran envoy Rob Malley (who is currently suspended and facing investigation), and putting an immediate end to sanctions-relief efforts.

The Biden administration appears to have responded to congressional pressure, with officials reportedly briefing lawmakers Thursday that the $6 billion in frozen assets it released to a Qatar-controlled account for Iran’s use as part of the recent hostage deal would remain frozen.

But there are billions more in funds that the administration has allowed to go to Iran, including a recent waiver to unfreeze $10 billion previously held by Iraq, and an easing up of oil sanctions. All of that needs to be undone, to the extent possible, and Congress needs to increase its pressure on the White House to that end.

Above all else, America needs to reestablish the deterrence that has eroded for three years now. President Biden sounded some helpful notes in his remarks on Tuesday, telling other actors thinking of taking advantage of the situation that they should not. Sending a carrier strike group to the Mediterranean was also the right move. Biden must also return to the Trump-era policy that held Iran directly responsible for its proxies’ attacks on Americans. The drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani demonstrated that policy in action; it humbled Tehran and put a limit on its foreign misadventures, at least for a while.

As Washington moves to counter Iran’s terrorism, it must be keenly aware that Tehran’s other proxies are already threatening retaliation against Israel for its operations against Hamas targets in Gaza. Hezbollah and the IRGC’s Quds Force are already known to operate within the U.S. Hamas has also called for its supporters across the world to take to the streets on Friday.

Hamas and Iran inflicted unspeakable evil on Israel last week. But if America doesn’t get the next part right, the worst might be yet to come.

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