By ISSG- International Studies of Strategic and Geopolitics
October 11, 2023
Washington – Iran’s alleged involvement in the planning of a recent Hamas attack on Israel could lead to Israeli retaliation and a wider regional conflict, experts say.
According to an Oct. 8 report by The Wall Street Journal, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) helped plan the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that killed more than 900 Israelis and resulted in the kidnapping of more than 100 people.
The report said that beginning in August, senior IRGC officials — including, at times, Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani and, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian — met biweekly with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hezbollah to plan the attack, which Iran allegedly gave its final approval for on Oct. 2.
If Iran’s involvement in the attack is confirmed, it would mark a significant escalation in Tehran’s support for Palestinian militant groups. It would also likely lead to a strong response from Israel, which has repeatedly stated that it will not tolerate Iranian interference in the region.
“Iran’s alleged involvement in the Hamas attack is a red line for Israel,” said David Menashri, a former Israeli intelligence official. “If this is confirmed, it is likely that Israel will retaliate with military strikes against Iran’s nuclear program and its proxies in the region.”
Israeli officials have so far declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal report. However, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has warned that Israel will take “all necessary measures” to protect its citizens.
“We will not allow Iran to threaten our security or the security of our allies,” Lapid said in a statement on Oct. 9.
Iran has denied any involvement in the Hamas attack. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called the allegations “baseless and unfounded.”
“Iran is committed to peace and stability in the region and has always condemned violence against civilians,” Khatibzadeh said in a statement on Oct. 10.
However, many experts believe that Iran’s involvement in the attack is likely.
“Iran has a long history of supporting Palestinian militant groups,” said Michael Knights, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “It is highly unlikely that Iran would not have been involved in the planning of such a major attack.”
If Israel does retaliate against Iran, it could lead to a wider regional conflict. Iran’s proxies in the region, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, are likely to respond with attacks against Israel and U.S. interests.
“A conflict between Israel and Iran could quickly escalate into a wider regional war,” said Knights. “This is a very dangerous situation.”
The United States has urged both sides to exercise restraint.
“We call on all parties to avoid further violence and escalation,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Oct. 10. “We urge all parties to engage in dialogue to resolve their differences peacefully.”
However, it remains to be seen whether either side is willing to back down. The stakes are high, and both Israel and Iran are likely to take all necessary measures to protect their interests.