newsOctober 7

Iran’s fingerprints on Oct. 7 massacre ‘well-documented’

Tehran aims to sacrifice Palestinian blood and destroy Palestinian land, Mahmoud Abbas's office said.

An Iranian flag over a missile, April 2022. Credit: Mohasseyn/Shutterstock.
An Iranian flag over a missile, April 2022. Credit: Mohasseyn/Shutterstock.

When thousands of Hamas-led terrorists murdered some 1,200 Israeli men, women and children on Oct. 7 and kidnaped hundreds of others, it further exposed how Iran supported and funded Hamas and continues to foment regional unrest.

In a U.S. State Department briefing on Oct. 23, a senior defense official said it is “well-documented” that Tehran has supported Hamas and “other partners and proxies across the region” including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen through “funding, equipping, guidance and direction.”  

The official noted “when you see this uptick in activity and attacks by many of these groups, there’s Iranian fingerprints all over it.”

At the same time, the Palestinian Authority is adamant that no outside parties exploit the Palestinian suffering in Gaza.

Earlier in June, P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas hit back at remarks made by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, praising the Oct. 7 attack.

Speaking at a ceremony on June 3 marking the 35th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s death in Tehran, Khamenei praised Hamas’s unprecedented assault “as a huge blow to Israel,” saying it disrupted plans by Israel and the United States to change the regional dynamics.

The Iranian regime also reportedly claimed that the Oct. 7 attack was intended, among other things, to avenge the [U.S.’s January 2020] killing of [IRGC Quds Force commander] Qassem Soleimani.”

The P.A. immediately responded to Khamenei’s comments, saying that the Palestinian people are the first to be affected by the ongoing Israeli war in the Gaza Strip.

In a statement carried by the official WAFA news agency, Abbas’s office said such comments are “clearly” aimed at sacrificing Palestinian blood and destroying Palestinian land.

These comments “will not lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” the office said.

“The Palestinian people have been fighting and struggling for a hundred years, and they do not need wars that do not serve their ambitions for freedom and independence and for the preservation of Jerusalem and its Islamic and Christian sanctities,” the P.A. stressed.

“What we want is an end to the occupation, not policies that do not serve the national goals,” the statement claimed.

Meddling in internal affairs

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning Arab and Palestinian affairs journalist, told JNS this is “not the first time” the P.A. has criticized Iran for meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians, especially supporting Hamas in the Gaza Strip and some armed groups in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

In December, IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif declared that Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack was revenge for killing Soleimani. His comment led the Palestinians to respond with anger. 

In similar comments, Mahmoud al-Habbash, Abbas’s adviser on religious affairs and Islamic relations, accused Iran of seeking a foothold in the Palestinian territories, saying, “Tehran is sacrificing the blood of the Palestinian people for its own interests.”

In comments to the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV earlier in June, al-Habbash responded to Khamenei’s statements, saying, “Iran has no right to assess what happened on October 7.”

Michael Milstein, head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, told JNS, “This is the second or third time the Palestinians have reacted in a tough manner against Iranian announcements regarding the war in Gaza.”

According to Milstein, “These events reflect the deep hostility of Sunni Arabs, including Palestinians, against the Shi’ite axis and the Iranians. Hamas enjoys military support but even the organization cannot ignore deep ideological and religious gaps.”

Eyal Hulata, a former Israeli national security adviser, has also pointed to “Iranian fingerprints on both potential [Hamas] planning and motivation, in light of attempts to normalize [Israel’s relations] with Saudi Arabia.”  

In January, Israeli Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology Gila Gamliel said in an interview with JNS, “The fingerprints of Iran can be found on every conflict now underway in the Middle East, from Gaza to Lebanon to the Red Sea.”

Meanwhile, Abbas has consistently refused to fully acknowledge or condemn the Oct. 7 attacks.

‘Giving Israel an excuse’

Abu Toameh said that “while the P.A. and Abbas himself have thus far refrained from publicly condemning the October 7 atrocities, Abbas recently criticized Hamas for allegedly giving Israel an excuse to attack the Gaza Strip.

“The P.A. has also refrained from calling on Hamas to release the Israeli hostages or relinquish control over the Gaza Strip,” Abu Toameh continued. “In private, Abbas and some P.A. and Fatah officials have lashed out at Hamas for initiating the war with Israel and bringing a new Nakba to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

Since Oct. 7, the P.A. has expressed direct support for Hamas’s actions.

In May, al-Habbash posted a threat on his Facebook page, warning that the Oct. 7 massacre could “repeat itself 100 times, and perhaps even more seriously,” according to the Palestinian Media Watch research institute.

In November, Jibril Rajoub, a senior official in the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah faction, expressed support for the Oct. 7 massacre and warned of a similar attack in Judea and Samaria.

According to Abu Toameh, “There are some officials in Ramallah who continue to talk about the possibility of forming a unity government with Hamas.”

They believe that Hamas “is going nowhere and will continue to have a presence in the Gaza Strip the day after the war,” he told JNS.

“That’s why the P.A. is careful in its public positions towards Hamas. The P.A. is also aware that many Palestinians continue to support Hamas,” he said.

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