Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly told Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh earlier this month that, since Tehran was not given prior notice of the devastating terror onslaught of October 7, it would not join the war against Israel.
In a report Wednesday citing “three senior officials,” Reuters said Khamenei had told Haniyeh that, while Iran would offer political support to Hamas, it would not “intervene directly” in the fight.
The Iranian leader also reportedly asked Haniyeh to “silence those voices” in Hamas calling for Iran and its proxy terror group Hezbollah to directly join the war against Israel “in full force.”
The report said Hezbollah was also caught off guard by the massacre.
“We woke up to a war,” Reuters quoted an unnamed commander in the Lebanese terror group as saying.
The war erupted when Hamas-led terrorists stormed from Gaza into southern Israel on October 7, massacring some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seizing over 240 hostages in the deadliest attack in the Jewish state’s history. Israel subsequently launched an aerial and ground offensive, vowing to eliminate the terror group’s military and government in the Gaza Strip, where it has ruled since 2007.
Since the conflict began, there have been a string of attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria, as well as almost daily exchanges of fire across the Israel-Lebanon border between Hezbollah and the IDF.
But Hezbollah has refrained from launching a full-scale campaign, and Israel, too, has attempted to walk a fine line, responding with significant firepower to attacks and attempted attacks, while trying to avoid actions that would escalate the conflict, as it seeks to keep its focus on Gaza.
The persistent skirmishes along the border have resulted in three civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of six IDF soldiers.
On the Lebanese side, nearly 100 have been killed. The toll includes at least 74 Hezbollah members, eight Palestinian terrorists, a number of civilians, and one Reuters journalist.
The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, meanwhile, have fired several missiles toward Israel that have either been intercepted over the Red Sea or missed their target.
Since the conflict began, there has been debate over how deeply involved and aware Tehran was of the planned brutal incursion. Iranian leaders have repeatedly warned Israel of the threat of a regional war over the offensive in Gaza, but have denied involvement in the massacre.
The former deputy head of the Mossad Ehud Lavi said Sunday that he believed it was unlikely that Iran did not know in advance of the Hamas assault.
“That such a significant, reality-changing event, like the attack on October 7, would happen without the Iranians knowing? That sounds unrealistic to me,” said Lavi, who led the spy agency’s daring operation to obtain Iran’s secret nuclear archive, which was revealed in 2018.
According to a Wall Street Journal report last month, hundreds of Palestinian terrorists underwent “specialized combat training” in Iran weeks before the group’s murderous onslaught.
However, the White House has said it has not yet found any evidence directly linking the Islamic Republic to the massacre. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is not certain that Tehran was involved.
Hamas has called on its allies multiple times to join the war and attack Israel.
On the day of their devastating onslaught, Hamas’s military commander Muhammed Deif called on the “Islamic resistance in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon” – countries with terror movements that are militarily supported by Iran – to “merge their resistance with that of the Palestinians today,” and “start marching toward Palestine now.”
Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas who is considered to be its leader in the West Bank, issued a statement along the same lines, calling on the Arab and Islamic nation to join the battle.
Khaled Mashaal, the former political leader of Hamas, expressed gratitude for Hezbollah’s involvement in a TV interview last month, but urged for “more” to be done.
On Saturday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called for more global demonstrations against the war in Gaza in order to put pressure on Israel and its allies.
Nasrallah, in a lengthy speech, also called for dragging out the war “for as long as possible” to enable greater “resistance,” and sneered that only the US and UK were now standing with Israel.