Andwound is behind the Hamas attack on Israel? According to an article on Wall Street Journal (October 8), which cited only anonymous sources from the Palestinian Islamist party Hezbollah, Tehran had given the go-ahead for Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. Something Iran’s leaders dispute, both welcoming Hamas’s attacks and calling for it “may the resistance continue”. In the US, many congressmen, Republicans and Democrats, have pushed for new sanctions against Tehran. But the question is: if indeed the Islamic Republic is the godfather of this offensive, why “Hezb” (“the party”), its main representative in the region, did not go to war at the same time with “Hamas” in the name of “united fronts” or “the common resistance” – expressions that the leaders of the Lebanese formation regularly use? Such an intervention would have contributed to the disorganization of the Israeli army – many of whose units were stationed in the West Bank – before the US aircraft carrier airborne group Gerald Ford to arrive, s “preventive purpose” according to Washington, off Israeli shores.
Assuming that Tehran knew, two hypotheses can be considered. The first is that he had no idea of the exact details, above all the date set for the start of hostilities. Several Arab analysts support this scenario (1): Hamas itself made the decision to launch the attack without warning its allies. More importantly, the military leadership in the person of its chief, Mohammed Deif, planned it without consulting Tehran or even the political leadership in exile in Qatar. A way to avoid leaks and also assert the primacy of domestic drivers over those abroad.
The second hypothesis is that Tehran did not want Hezbollah to be associated with the attack in the first place, keeping the formation in reserve and waiting for the next events. For the mullahs’ regime, the Lebanese formation is a valuable lever to deter Israel from launching an attack on its nuclear installations, and therefore should not engage it lightly. In the past, Tehran hesitated for a long time before pushing Hezbollah to engage on an external front in Syria to protect the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The low-intensity conflict that the Lebanese militia maintains along Israel’s northern border serves only to remind Tel Aviv that it must always be reckoned with. After the “thirty-three day war” of 2006, which pitted it against Israel, “Hezbollah”, which considers itself to have emerged victorious in this conflict, has significantly strengthened itself militarily. And while they acknowledge the superiority of the Israeli air force, its personnel emphasize the fact that they are not afraid of a collision on land.
A week after the attack, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened Israel with the use of force if the aerial bombardment of Gaza continued. “If these crimes of the Zionist regime continue, the Muslim and resistance forces will lose patience and no one will be able to stop them”, the first Iranian leader said on October 17. For his part, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian warned the US and Israel that the situation in the Middle East “could get out of hand”. In short, Tehran explains that it will not be able to prevent Hezbollah and other actors subordinate to it from attacking Israel. On Thursday, October 19, a US Navy ship in the Red Sea intercepted several missiles and drones fired from Yemen by the Houthis (pro-Iranian Yemeni rebels). These long-range weapons were pointed north and, according to Washington, could reach Israeli territory. Every day, the Iranian press, close to power, insists that all armed Shiite factions in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq should focus their forces against Israel in the future. The risks of Mashreq igniting (the Arab world east of Egypt – translation note)
The Israeli government, aware of the danger of opening a second front in the north, has already evacuated several settlements near the border and is constantly issuing warnings to Iran and Hezbollah. As the days passed, the usual skirmishes became more frequent and in intensity reminiscent of the prelude to the 2006 war. But is Hezbollah really interested in starting a war against Israel? That would mean risking a US response 40 years after the US Navy bombarded the Lebanese coast in response to the twin bombings in Beirut that killed 241 US soldiers and 58 French paratroopers. One of the first consequences of the Hamas attack on Israel is the return of the US warship to the region.