U.S. investigating whether Iran gave advanced training to Hamas militants



Hamas also used drones to damage cellular transmission stations, limiting communications, and to destroy military surveillance towers, which prevented soldiers from being able to monitor the border, the New York Times reported. Drones also disabled remote-controlled machine guns that were a key tool in thwarting a ground attack.

Hamas focused on swarming multiple entry points on Israel’s border, posting videos of the incursion while waving flags, holding territory for long as possible and killing and abducting Israelis indiscriminately to “puncture Israel’s sense of deterrence and security and then negotiate over hostages and draw them into a land war on your turf,” Levitt said.

For years, Iranian officials have publicly boasted about their role in arming Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia and political party in Lebanon.

In an interview in 2021, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force, said that Gaza and Lebanon were at the forefront of the battle against Israel and that “everything you see of their missile capability has been supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“Instead of giving them a fish or teaching them to catch a fish,” he said, “we taught our allies and friends how to make a hook and they are now in possession of missile capabilities and technologies.”

Iran’s relationship with Hamas dates to the early 1990s, when the group first rose to prominence in Gaza. Iran hosted its leaders at conferences in Tehran in a bid to promote a hard-line alternative to Fatah, the Palestinian party engaging in Arab-Israeli peace talks at the time. Iranian officials invited Hamas militants to training camps set up for Tehran’s proxies in the region. 

After it initially provided Hamas with weapons smuggled into Gaza, Iran helped the group manufacture its own rockets locally, based on Iranian designs and technology, according to security experts. 

Members of Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps taught Hamas engineers how to make short-range rockets from everyday materials such as sugar and pipes, said Ido Levy of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. By 2012, Hamas was firing long-range Iranian Fajr-5 rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Hamas has made steady progress since then in its ability to quickly launch large numbers of rockets and to strike targets up to 45 miles away.

“A lot of what Hamas is firing on Israel is based on Iranian technology, but it’s not necessarily Iranian-manufactured per se,” said Kenneth Katzman, a senior fellow at the Soufan Center, a nonprofit group focusing on global security issues and a former senior analyst with the Congressional Research Service. “Iran was transferring technology to Hamas for a very long time.”

By launching large volleys of rockets, Hamas has tried to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system, which is designed to shoot down low-altitude rockets. Although the Iron Dome system has proven to be largely effective, “some of them inevitably get through,” said Levy of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

For decades, Iran has cultivated Hamas, Hezbollah and other proxies across the region, from Lebanon to Yemen, to counter countries with more powerful conventional militaries and to force enemies to think twice before they attack Iran, experts say. In some cases, they have taught different proxies the same strategies and tactics.

Experts said the Hamas assault on Israel bore a striking resemblance to tactics the Hezbollah militia used in Lebanon. It was “straight out of the Hezbollah playbook,” Levitt said. 



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