Senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar on Saturday said that Iran will increase its military and economic aid to Gazan groups because of the victory Hamas claims against Israel in Operation Pillar of Defense.
“They give it to us in the name of Allah, without conditions, and I am a witness to this,” he told reporters in Gaza, adding, “It is our right to take money and weapons from Iran.”
Al-Zahar, one of the founders of the Islamist terror organization, said that now “the Jews will think twice” before attacking Iran because Hamas fired rockets at Tel Aviv during Operation Pillar of Defense. He also touted Hamas’s combat success against Israel during the eight-day operation, claiming its fighters downed seven Israeli aircraft. The IDF has denied that any of its aircraft were shot down.
Al-Zahar promised that his organization will continue to arm itself with Iranian assistance, reiterating vows to that effect made earlier on Saturday by Hamas No. 2 Moussa Abu Marzouk.
“We have no choice but to continue to import weaponry every way possible,” he said. Al-Zahar noted that Qatar — whose head of state visited the Gaza Strip last month and pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for construction projects — should compete with its rival Iran in providing Hamas with weapons and money.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced Iran’s supply of arms to Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip. After announcing the ceasefire agreement that ended Operation Pillar of Defense on Wednesday, Netanyahu said that ”the United States and Israel would work together to fight the smuggling of weapons to the terror organizations — weapons, virtually all of which come from Iran.”
Throughout the operation, the IDF reiterated that Hamas is a forward operating base for Iran, and that Hamas’s weapons, particularly the long-range Fajr-5 missiles, are provided by Tehran.