Top Iranian security officials and the Hamas terror group held a closed-door meeting last week to discuss a response to the societal upheaval in Israel sparked by the government’s judicial overhaul, according to a Tuesday report.
The meeting was attended by a senior commander from Iran’s Quds Force, a part of the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards Corps that is responsible for extraterritorial operations, an Iranian diplomat told the Reuters news agency.
Two other Iranian security officials and officials from Hamas also attended the three-hour meeting, the report said, without specifying where the discussion took place.
The two sides agreed that the judicial crisis has already damaged Israel, but that they should not make any “direct interference” to exploit the situation because getting involved could allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deflect blame outward, to foreign enemies, the report said.
A Hamas source told Reuters that Hamas, Iran and the Quds Force were holding discussions “over the whole situation,” but would not discuss the meeting about the judicial overhaul. There was no immediate comment from official Iranian sources.
Iran backs Israeli enemies including the Gaza-based Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror organization.
Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, gloated on Tuesday that Israel was on the “path to disappearance.”
A Lebanese source told Reuters that Hezbollah fighters seen next to Israel’s border fence were elite fighters from the terror group, and that their patrol was unrelated to the political schisms in Israel. Tensions have spiked on the northern border in recent months over a series of confrontations, most of them instigated by Hezbollah.
Hezbollah officials at the highest levels have discussed the upheaval in Israel, however, and plan to exploit the situation in the future, the Lebanese source told Reuters.
The machinations among Israel’s enemies come as the government’s effort to diminish the judiciary has caused a historic crisis for the country, deepening societal fissures and sparking fears about national security and a host of other issues.
The government on Monday passed into law the first bill in its divisive judicial overhaul package, despite sustained mass protests, opposition by many top judicial, security, economic and public figures, and over 10,000 Israel Defense Forces reservists saying they will suspend their voluntary duty in protest.
Chaos erupted on the streets after the vote, with police clashing with thousands of protesters blocking major highways in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and around the country.
Many observers and opposition members have lamented that the issue has divided society in a way that will be difficult to overcome, and top military officials have said the damage done to the service model of the IDF will take many years to fix.
The protesting reservists — who are a key part of the army’s routine activities, including in top units — have warned in recent months they will not be able to serve in an undemocratic Israel, which some charge the country will become if the government’s overhaul plans are realized.
The military warned on Tuesday that combat readiness may soon be harmed if reservist troops do not show up for duty over a lengthy period of time.
Dozens of former top security officials — including ex-heads of the IDF, Mossad and Shin Bet — sent a letter to Netanyahu on Saturday calling on him to halt the judicial overhaul legislation to allow for renewed talks.