Iran’ Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and top military commanders of the country during a military event in Tehran on October 10, 2023

Commentators Discuss Iran's Possible Involvement In Hamas Attack

Thursday, 10/12/2023

A centrist daily in Tehran has warned Iranian officials to avoid radical comments about the war between Hamas and Israel.

Ham Mihan newspaper warned the officials that comments in support of Hamas might invite trouble for Iran and its national interests as foreign countries might take advantage of such provocative comments to prove that Iran was behind the attack by Hamas. 

Although the United States and Israel have not directly implicated Iran, many Iranians on social media have provided incriminating substance against Tehran, including a comment by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who said in previous years: "We intervened [in regional conflicts] due to our enmity with Israel and the result was the victory in the 33-day and 22-day wars. We will help any group that would fight Israel." 

On the first day of Hamas's attack, Khamenei's senior military adviser Yahya Rahim Safavi also reiterated Iran's support for Hamas and said: "We support the operation #Al-Aqsa _Storm. Certainly, the #Resistance_Front also supports this operation. We congratulate the Palestinian combatants for this operation. Certainly, ‘the defenders of the haram’ [Official jargon to refer to the Iranian militia in Syria] and great martyrs such as [Former IRGC Qods Force Commander] Qassem Soleimani are accompanying these combatants. We stand with you until the liberation of #Palestine." 

Iran's ruler Ali Khamenei's senior military adviser Yahya Rahim Safavi

However, as many Iranians noted on social media, Khamenei took back his words in a softened comment after warning by US officials about possible retaliation and said: "The Islamic Iran is being named as the country behind this move [by Hamas]. But they make a mistake. This was done by Palestinians themselves.

Ham Mihan noted that certain statements by Iranian officials have raised concerns regarding international reactions. The daily also cautioned that the pro-Hamas propaganda on state TV, under Khamenei's supervision, will not only anger foreign governments but also negatively impact the mood of the Iranian people, potentially turning them against the government. This has already been evident on social media, especially given the Iranian public's keen attention to content broadcast on foreign-based Persian satellite TV.

In Iran, conservative commentator Nasser Imani suggested that the international community should distinguish between Iran's financial and spiritual support for Palestinian groups and Tehran's alleged involvement in aggressions like the October 7 attack by Hamas. However, he appeared to overlook the fact that Iran's financial support could readily translate into missiles, drones, and other weaponry.

Meanwhile, Iranian Israeli commentator Meir Javedanfar told Iran International TV, which has been broadcasting one of its flagship news bulletins live from Jerusalem this week, that Israel has been garnering international support for an all-out attack on Gaza. Javedanfar added that at the same time Israel is collecting intelligence about Israeli and other hostages' whereabouts to keep them safe from the impact of air raids. 

Javedanfar added that Israel also calls residents of buildings in Gaza or sends SMS warnings to them in advance about incoming attacks. However, he said Israel is adamant to expel Hamas leaders from Gaza, although some of them live abroad with their families.

Another commentator, Ben Sabti, a researcher in Iran-Israel affairs, talked with Iran International about the possibility of Iran getting involved in the conflicts. Sabti Said: "This is a different kind of war and Hamas’ missile attacks which were examples of an all-out war by an army rather than a group indicate that Iran's Islamic government was involved by offering guidance or by sending money and providing weapons."

Sabti added: "We see that Hamas leaders take part in regular meetings with the IRGC Qods Force, and this is not something Israel could possibly ignore. If Israel does not target the snake's head and does not deal a hard blow to the Iranian regime, the same kind of attacks will reoccur in a few months from now." He stated that a siege on Gaza or military attacks alone are insufficient to eliminate Hamas, as their leaders are hiding in tunnels and won't be easily affected.

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