Iranian Weapons Support for Hamas Shows No Signs of Slowing
It's no secret that Iran has been supplying Hamas with weapons and rockets to use against Israel, but a special report by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center concluded just how deep the terror link between Iran and Hamas runs, and showed how Operation Pillar of Defense marked a major turning point in the relationship between the terrorist organization and the renegade state.
In Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF struck hard at the military power of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, mainly hitting their weapons stockpile, either supplied directly by iran or built in Gaza using Iranian technology.
It has long been known that the major military capabilities of Hamas were the product of massive Iranian support. The medium-range Fajr-5 rockets (made in Iran) and M75s (manufactured in Gaza with technology from Iran) targeted Israeli civilian population centers, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The report noted that aid from Iran to Hamas was being sent over in massive numbers in the years leading up to the military operation.
"The main route for smuggling arms was from Iran to Sudan and from Sudan to Egypt and into the Gaza Strip through the smuggling tunnels controlled by Hamas," said the report, adding that sea routes were also used to smuggle in weapons, as revealed on March 15, 2011 when the freighter Victoria was seized by the IDF. "The ship was carrying arms bound for the Gaza Strip by way of Egypt, whose arrival would upgrade military capabilities of the terrorist organizations. Among the weapons on board the Victoria were C704 anti-ship missiles, which could be used to attack not only military and civilian vessels but also strategic targets in the southern Israeli cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon," the report noted.
The main turning point that came with Operation Pillar of Defense is that before the operation Iranian aid to Hamas and the smuggling of weapons was always kept secret and always denied by Iran. However, after the operation, Iran decided to reveal that it had been giving military aid to the terrorist organizations in Gaza.
"In our assessment, that was because of Iran's deep frustration with the way Egypt and other Muslim countries, such as Turkey and Qatar, had made political and propaganda capital from their support for Hamas during Operation Pillar of Defense," the report stated. "By exposing its military aid Iran hoped, in our assessment, to make political capital."
"Hamas' dependence on Iran for military support is still strong, and is, in our assessment, a necessary condition for rebuilding the military infrastructure damaged by Operation Pillar of Defense."
Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah said in a recent speech that the arrival of weapons from Iran though Egypt would "continue in the future as well." In addition, a Hizbullah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper reported that Hassan Nasrallah, meeting with Hizbullah operatives, said that Iran, as it had in the past, would continue sending "large quantities of high-quality weapons" to Hamas.
Therefore, the report noted, Iran is fully expected to play a key role in rebuilding the weapons stockpile of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "Special attention will be paid to medium-range rockets, whose existence in the Gaza Strip serves Iran's clear interest in creating a rocket threat to Israel from both the north (through Hizbullah) and the south (through Hamas and the Islamic Jihad)," the report stated.