A high-ranking Iranian official has criticized Hamas for failing to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip during the conflict with Israel, saying the group should in future allow civilians to hide in its tunnels.

“They use the tunnels to launch missiles, but they should also use them to protect civilians,” Mohsen Rezaei, a member of the Iranian government and an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Iran’s Al-Alam news network.

“They should think of a way to protect the civilians,” he said in comments relayed by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “They could dig tunnels and when a war breaks out, the people could take refuge in these tunnels. All the people could go underground.”

The politician noted Iran’s responsibility for Hamas’s rocket arsenal, saying Tehran had supplied Hamas with the know-how to construct the weapons.

“How do you think these missiles were produced?” he says. “All these missiles are the fruit of the technology provided to Palestine.”

Rezaei added that he had written to Hamas leaders to express his support for their “resistance” against Israel, and to suggest that they make attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers as this was Israel’s “weakness.”

“When two or three people, two or three soldiers are captured, Israel will surrender,” he said.

Rezaei urged all able men to join future wars against Israel, saying that “if only 100 thousand [of Gaza's 1.8 million people] begin to take action, Israel will not be able to withstand it.”