Iran’s Involvement in the October 7 Onslaught

Last week, the IDF publicized documents found in a captured tunnel beneath Gaza that record the transfer of $154 million from the Iranian government to Hamas. This discovery fills in the details of what has long been known to anyone paying attention: that the Palestinian terrorist group relies heavily on support from Tehran. But what is somewhat less clear is the role Iran had in the actual planning and orchestration of the October 7 attacks.

Kyle Orton provides a forensic breakdown of publicly available information about this question, arguing that the Islamic Republic’s involvement went far beyond providing funds and arms, and explaining why statements to the contrary from unnamed CIA sources should be taken with a grain of salt. Iran, writes Orton, has every reason to deny its involvement:

The whole purpose of Iran’s revolutionary imperialist model . . . is to provide “deniability” for its operations so that it does not directly pay the price for its adventurism. Why the West continues to agree to play by Iran’s rules is a separate issue, but suffice it to say the “official” statements from the “Axis of Resistance,” [i.e., Iran, Syria, and their allied terrorist groups], were always going to lead away from Iran’s responsibility for October 7.

The most damning piece of evidence regards the participation of Esmail Qaani, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) responsible for directing Tehran’s various proxy forces. He met with a war room established in Beirut in 2021 to coordinate activities among Hizballah and various Palestinian terrorist groups:

The day after the October 7 pogrom the Wall Street Journal reported, citing “senior members of Hamas and Hizballah,” that the IRGC had worked intensively with Hamas in the final two months before the invasion of Israel to refine the plan, and gave the final “green light” for the assault at a meeting in Beirut on October 2.

The Journal documented that the Quds Force, [the IRGC’s expeditionary corps], frequently represented by Esmail Qaani personally, had gathered . . . the Hamas military chief Saleh al-Arouri, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Ziyad al-Nakhala, and officials from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine for “biweekly” meetings in Lebanon, starting in August 2023, to discuss their roles in the October 7 atrocity, and how they would deal with the aftermath. . . .

The formation of the Joint Operations Chamber last summer, the planning meetings for the pogrom beginning in August 2023, the specialized combat training in Iran itself for hundreds of Palestinian terrorists in the weeks before October 7, the timing, the provision of weapons, the intelligence training to deceive Israel, the relentless flow of money, . . . show the direct, intricate control Iran had over every aspect at every stage of the preparation and execution of the atrocities on that awful Saturday morning.

Read more at It Can Always Get Worse

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Hizballah, Iran

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

More about: Houthis, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy