Hamas’s Lebanese War Room

Sept. 15 2022

During the 2021 war between Israel and Hamas, the Gaza-based terrorist group reportedly maintained an operations center in Beirut, primarily for intelligence sharing with Hizballah and with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Jonathan Schanzer examines what is known about this war room, and the implications of its discovery:

Based on available information, the primary purpose of the nerve center appears to be intelligence-sharing. Specifically, the nerve center provides Hamas with aerial intelligence derived by Hizballah and the IRGC, perhaps through reconnaissance drones dispatched from Lebanon and Syria. Several have been targeted by Israeli air defenses in recent years, according to news reports. One focus of this reconnaissance effort appears to be mapping the movement of Israeli forces. This may have helped Hamas avoid an Israel Defense Forces ambush on the group’s tunnel network in the 2021 war. Reports also suggest that the nerve center provided Hamas with better capabilities to conduct “sensitive hacking operations” against Israel.

The very fact that Hamas is actively cooperating with Iran and Hizballah is significant. A decade ago, Hamas leaders left Syria in protest after years of close cooperation, owing to the Iran-backed military campaign against Sunni and Palestinian fighters in the Syrian civil war. Rapprochement reportedly began in 2017, when Hizballah officials held talks with senior Hamas officials amid reports of a resumption of Iranian funding for the group. Hamas’s leader Saleh al-Arouri led several Hamas delegations to Iran and Lebanon in 2017. By 2018, the Israeli mission to the United Nations charged that Arouri was collaborating with Iran and Hizballah to establish rocket-launching facilities in Lebanon with the goal of drawing Israel into a two-front conflict, with attacks from Gaza and Lebanon in the future.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship