Hamas Rejects Ceasefire: Is Backed by Iran

Hamas rejected a UN ceasefire proposal today (Jan. 9)[1] as Iran-backed Palestinian terrorist groups launched several rounds of rockets and mortars into Israel, hitting the Kerem Shalom border crossing where Israel was delivering humanitarian aid into Gaza.[2]

Just days before, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal met with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and parliament speaker Ali Larijani in Damascus, where Larijani referred to a ceasefire backed by European and Middle Eastern nations as “honey injected with poison.”[3]

Israel’s diplomatic-security cabinet met to consider the UN ceasefire proposal, but concluded that “The IDF will continue to act in order to attain the objectives of the operation – to bring about a change in the security situation in the south of the country – this in accordance with the plans that have been approved upon embarking on the operation.” The cabinet cited continued weapons smuggling into Gaza as part of its decision, while affirming that Israel would continue delivering humanitarian aid into Gaza.[4]

Said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, “The firing of rockets this morning only goes to show that the UN decision is unworkable and will not be adhered to by the murderous Palestinian organizations.”[5]

On Dec. 27, Israel began a defensive operation to dismantle the infrastructure of Hamas, which has fired more than 10,000 rockets, mortars and missiles at Israel since 2001.[6] Hamas has been able to carry out its years-long attacks against Israeli civilians with the help of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran is the world’ largest state sponsors of terrorism and a chief sponsor of Palestinian terrorism, provides approximately $20 million -$30 million to Hamas annually and also trains Hamas operatives in Iran and Syria.[7] Iran gave Hamas an additional $50 million after it beat Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction in the 2006 Palestinian elections.[8]

In the months before Hamas seized control of Gaza in a bloody coup in June 2007, Iran conducted extensive military training for Hamas members.[9] During the siege, Hamas killed 161 Palestinians and wounded at least 700 others.[10] Approximately 950 Hamas terrorists have been trained in building rockets and bombs, tactical warfare, weapons operation and sniper tactics by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a special division of Iran’s armed forces.[11]

On Nov. 28, 2008, an Iranian-manufactured standard 120mm mortar was fired by a terrorist group in Gaza and hit an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) base inside Israel, wounding eight soldiers, one of whom had his leg amputated as a result. The use of Iranian-made munitions by Palestinian terrorists is an increasingly common phenomenon in the conflict.[12]

Additional recent actions and support by Iran include:

  • Recruiting 70,000 Iranian students for suicide attacks against Israeli troops in Gaza.[13] On Jan. 5, Esmaeel Ahmadi, director of the Public Relations of Iran’s Students’ Basij Organization, said the students had signed up for ‘martyrdom operations’ against Israeli troops in Gaza.[14]
  • A meeting at the Iranian Embassy in Syria Wednesday (Jan. 7) between Ali Larijani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and parliament speaker and top Hamas officials including Hamas’s Damascus political bureau leader Khaled Mashaal. During the visit, Larijani also met with members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad,[15] which receives $2 million annually from Iran.[16] Hours after the meetings, three Katyushas were fired into Israel from southern Lebanon – the first such attack from Lebanon since the 34-day defensive war Israel fought against Hezbollah during July – August 2006.[17] Hezbollah denied responsibility, and some Lebanese officials said Palestinian terrorists were responsible for the attack, which wounded two people.[18]
  • Tehran has publicly urged Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to carry out terrorist attacks.[19]
  • Shutting down its reformist daily newspaper Kargozaran after the paper criticized Hamas for its role in Israel’s operations in Gaza and labeling Hamas a terrorist organization.[20] The communique came from the Iranian student group Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat (Strengthening Unity – Clerics Circle) It further stated that “Hamas’ use of civilians to protect it from Israel’s attacks was inhumane and criticized the Iranian regime for arming Hamas, claiming that as a result Iran has the blood of innocents on its hands.” Mehdi Arabshahi, secretary of Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat accused circles close to Ahmadinejad of taking advantage of the situation in Gaza to “crack down on human rights organizations in Iran and to silence his opponents.”[21]
  • Conducting extensive media operations in Gaza. Iran runs the Al-Aqsa TV station which has promoted terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis. On the children’s program “Tomorrow’s Pioneers” which has featured numerous life-size costumed animals, the character called Assoud – a rabbit, stated, “I, Assoud, will finish off the Jews and eat them, Allah willing..” The show is but one example of the incitement to hatred and violence promoted by the TV channel.[22]
  • Iran also provides weapons, training and money to other terrorist groups bent on destroying Israel such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and encourages them to carry out attacks.[24]

    Jalal Ghazi from New American Media wrote: “[…] it is obvious that Iran and Hezbollah have been transferring their know-how to Hamas in Gaza.”[25] The Jerusalem Post’s David Horovitz wrote that Hamas has “drawn itself increasingly into Iran’s orbit.” Much of the terrorist organization’s weaponry and expertise in producing and refining rockets has been provided by Iran, said Horovitz, adding that numerous commanders have been trained in Iran to carry out Iran’s goal of destroying Israel.[26]

    Shared ideology

    The terrorist organization and the Islamic Republic share “a close ideological vision of the Middle East.”[27] For example, neither entity recognizes Israel’s right to exist and have explicitly called for Israel’s destruction. In 2005, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel should be “wiped off the map” and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it eventually.[28] The Hamas charter of 1988 calls for Israel’s destruction “at the hands of Islam.”[29] On April 16, 2006, Khaled Mashaal, Hamas’ exiled political leader, said Hamas would “never recognize Israel.”[30]

    In The Daily Star, a Lebanese English-language newspaper, Ana Mahjar-Barducci described the relationship between Hamas and Iran as: “[…] an alliance across the great Islamic divide, between a Sunni group and a Shiite regional power.”[31]

    On Dec. 9, 2008, Ahmadinejad emphasized Iran’s support for the terrorist group until the “collapse of Israel.” The Iranian president further said Hamas’s resistance against Israel and the group’s achievements would always be “a source of pride for all Muslims.”[32]

    In September, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “Iran considered supporting the Palestinians its religious and national duty and would stay beside the Palestinian nation until the big victory feast which is the collapse of the Zionist regime (Israel).”[33]

    Today on the floor of the U.S. Congress, Rep. Brad Sherman stated “Hamas claims to be beleaguered, but it has rejected the United Nations Security Council cease-fire resolution passed last night. Hamas has done everything it can to increase civilian casualties, including the use of human shields. Yet even U.N. estimates say that over two-thirds of the Palestinian casualties have been gun-toting militants, and other estimates put that number at over three-quarters.

    “While Israel seeks to live in peace alongside a Palestinian state, Hamas seeks to kill or expel every Jew from the Middle East,” Sherman continued. “Hamas proudly waves the banner of genocide and ethnic cleansing.”[34]

    [1] Black, Ian, “Hamas rejects UN call for Gaza ceasefire,” The Guardian (UK), Jan. 9, 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/09/hamas-gaza-ceasefire-un-israel

    [2] Jpost.com staff, “Mortar shells fired at Kerem Shalom,” The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 9, 2009, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1231424898375&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    [3] Perry, Tom, “Iran’s Larijani slams proposals on Gaza,” Reuters, Jan. 9, 2009, http://www.reuters.com/article/newsMaps/idUSTRE5076P220090108

    [4] Ravid, Barak; Shamir, Shlomo, “Israel rejects UN truce resolution, continues Gaza operation,” Haaretz, Jan. 9, 2009, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1054201.html

    [5] Ibid.

    [6] Farrell, Stephen, “A Credo of Rejection,” The New York Times, Dec. 30, 2008

    [7] Hamas, “Council on Foreign Relations Web site, http://www.cfr.org/publication/8968/, retrieved July 7, 2008

    [8] Iran pledges $50m Palestinian aid,” BBC News, April 16, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4914334.stm

    [9] Rabinovich, Abraham, “Hamas digs in for war in Gaza,” The Australian, March 16, 2007

    [10] “Black Pages in the Absence of Justice: Report on Bloody Fighting in the Gaza Strip from 7 to 14 June 2007,” Palestine Centre for Human Rights, October 2007, http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/Reports/English/pdf_spec/Gaza%20Conflict%20-%20Eng%209%20october..pdf

    [11] “Senior Hamas operative figure tells London Sunday Times’ Gaza Strip correspondent about Iranian and Syria military aid, detailing the training received by hundreds of Hamas terrorist operatives and describing the transmission to Hamas of Iranian technical know-how for the manufacture of rockets and IED,” The Terrorist and Intelligence Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center, March 17, 2008, retrieved July 7, 2008, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_160308e.htm; Colvin, Marie, “Hamas wages Iran’s proxy war on Israel,” The Times, March 9, 2008, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3512014.ece

    [12] “Violation of calm: Rockets strike Sderot, Ashkelon, western Negev,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 17, 2008, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Hamas+war+against+Israel/Rockets_strike_Sderot_Ashkelon_western_Negev_

    16-Nov-2008.htm; Harel, Amos, “Gaza mortar shells injure eight soldiers, one loses leg,” Haaretz, Nov. 29, 2008, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1042007.html

    [13] “Iran says over 70,000 students sign up for martyrdom operations,” Xinhua, January 6, 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-01/06/content_10608923.htm

    [14] “Iran says over 70,000 students sign up for martyrdom operations,” Xinhua, January 6, 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-01/06/content_10608923.htm

    [15] “Iran’s Larijani meets Hamas in Damascus,” Reuters via NewsDaily, Jan. 7, 2009, http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre50709k-us-palestinians-israel-hamas-iran/#

    [16] “Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ),” Terrorism Knowledge Base Web site, http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=82, accessed Feb. 2, 2007

    [17] Bronner, Ethan, “U.N. and Red Cross Add to Outcry on Gaza War,” The New York Times, Jan. 8, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/09/world/middleeast/09mideast.html

    [18] “U.N. peacekeepers find rocket cache in south Lebanon,” Reuters, Jan. 9, 2009, http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE5084K220090109

    [19] Kyung-soo, Kim: “Iran Conncetion, ” Korea Times, June 7, 2007, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2008/12/197_6072.html

    [20] “Criticism Of Hamas Shutters Iranian Daily,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, December 31, 2008, http://www.rferl.org/content/Iranian_Editor_Hamas_Criticism_Closure/1365477.html

    [21] “Student Group: Hamas Is a Terrorist Group and Ist Use of Civilians is Inhumane; Those Who Arm Hamas Have Innocent Blood on Their Hands; Ahmadinejad’s Government Is Using Gaza Crisis to Settle Political Scores,” MEMRI, January 5, 2009, http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD217509

    [22] Kalman, Mathew, “Hamas launches TV Bugs Bunny-lookalike who declares ‘I will eat the Jews’,” The Daily Mail, Feb. 12, 2008, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-513925/Hamas-launches-TV-Bugs-Bunny-lookalike-declares-I-eat-Jews.html; “Al Aqsa TV,” ADL.org, http://www.adl.org/terrorism/profiles/al_aqsa_tv.asp, accessed on Dec. 22, 2008

    [23] Cummins, Chip; Taghavi, Roshanak: “Public Outrage Gives Iran’s Hard-Liners a Political Boost,” The Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2009, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123108547098551851.html?mod=googlenews_wsj&tr=y&auid=4379017

    [24] Kyung-soo, Kim: “Iran Conncetion,” Korea Times, June 7, 2007, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2008/12/197_6072.html

    [25] Ghazi, Jalal: “Iran’s Support of Hamas Unnerves Egypt,” New American Media, January 1, 2009, http://news.ncmonline.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=02d5e69137350252edf332252f4f00af

    [26] Horovitz, David: “Analysis: Don’t forget the Iranian connection,” The Jerusalem Post, December 29, 2008, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1230456504726&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    [27] “Middle East: Analyst Discusses Relations Between Iran And Hamas,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, January 27, 2006, http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1065130.html

    [28] Fathi, Nazila: “Wipe Israel ‘off the map’ Iranian says,” The International Herald Tribune, October 27, 2005, http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/10/26/news/iran.php

    [29] Morris, Benny: “Israel has no choice but to be tough on Hamas – and Iran,” The Times Online, January 4, 2009, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article5439608.ece

    [30] Alfano, Sean: “Hamas Gets $50 M Boost From Iran, As Funds Dwindle, Palestinian Party Gets Monetary Pledge from Iran,” CBS News Online/The Associated Press, April 16, 2006, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/04/16/world/main1501210.shtml

    [31] Mahjar-Barducci, Anna: “Fatal attraction: the Hamas-Iran alliance,” The Daily Star, May 8, 2006, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=24228

    [32] “Ahmadinejad: Iran will support Hamas until collapse of Israel,” DPA, December 9, 2008, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1020630.html

    [33] “Ahmadinejad: Iran will support Hamas until collapse of Israel,” Haaretz, Sept. 13, 2008, http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1020630.html

    [34] “Statement by Congressman Brad Sherman in Support of Israel, ” Press Release, Jan. 9, 2009

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