Iranian security officials helped to plan Palestinian terror group Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel. They gave the go-ahead for the assault at a meeting in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, last week, according to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah, another Iran-backed group. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officers reportedly worked with the group to devise the air, land, and sea attack that was one of Israel’s deadliest breaches of its borders in decades. They also reportedly sought to disrupt US-brokered talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which the groups see as threatening Iran’s regional influence.
The meetings were reportedly attended by Hezbollah and Hamas representatives, along with four representatives from other Iranian-backed militant groups. A former CIA officer specializing in the Middle East and South Asia told VOA’s X that it would be critical for intelligence agencies to determine what role Iran played in the Hamas attack if Tehran planned it.
A top Hamas official denied Sunday that Iran supported or sanctioned the attack. In an interview with NBC News, Ali Baraka, the head of Hamas’ National Relations Abroad, they were dismissed as “unsubstantiated” a report in the Wall Street Journal that Iranian officials were involved in planning the raid. The Journal’s report alleged that the Quds Force, the military arm of Iran’s government, had been working with Hamas since August to plot the attack and that the plan was finalized in Beirut on Monday. A second Arab source in Lebanon questioned the idea of close coordination between Hamas and Hezbollah, saying that the two groups had not met since the Israeli assassination of multiple Hezbollah leaders in May.
Hezbollah and Hamas have vowed to fight for the destruction of Israel, the Jewish state’s main regional rival. Analysts say Iran’s leadership would likely have multiple motivations for supporting the attack, including a desire to distract the public from recent protests that have rocked the country and its crackdown on them.
If confirmed, the WSJ report of Iran’s involvement could ratchet tensions in the already volatile Middle East. In a televised address Sunday, President Joe Biden condemned the assault and called for an end to “Iran’s support of international terrorism.” A former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told VOA in a phone call Saturday that it is too early to know precisely what role Iran played in planning the attack. He said, however, that the fact that proxies carried out the assault “will not save them.”