Iran has played a key role in helping the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to develop its missiles, enabling them to hit targets well inside Israel, according to a report by Britain's Telegraph newspaper on Friday.
The report, based on claims made by Western intelligence officials, suggests that Iran's elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which until last year was headed by the late General Qasem Soleimani, oversaw the development and evolution of the Hamas arsenal. "Intelligence officials believe the technological assistance provided by Iran, which includes detailed advice on setting up Hamas's own production infrastructure in Gaza, has resulted in a significant improvement in the terrorist [sic] organisation's ability to strike targets deep within Israel," said the right-wing newspaper.
Ties between Hamas and Tehran are believed to have been strengthened during the past five years as the movement sought to improve its military capabilities following the devastating 2014 Israeli military offensive against the Palestinians in Gaza, despite disagreements over the Syria conflict.
Following the 2014 offensive, Hamas spokesman Abu Ubaida thanked the Islamic Republic for its support. "[Tehran] did not withhold from us funds, weapons and other [forms of aid] and helped us in our resistance by supplying us with missiles that pulverised the Zionist strongholds during the attacks and battles we waged against the occupier."
"The collaboration between Iran and Hamas has resulted in the organisation having far more effective weapons," a senior Western intelligence official was quoted as saying by the Telegraph. "Iran's assistance has resulted in significant improvements in terms of range, precision and the extent of destruction the weapons can cause."
Earlier today the Israeli military said that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have fired 3,100 rockets from the Gaza Strip towards Israel since the latest intensification of the conflict started last week in response to Israel's acts of aggression in occupied East Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
New video of Saraya al-Quds launching what is says is the Badr-3 at Netivot in #Israel. Just days ago, a #Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesman was thanking the Axis of Resistance headed by #Iran for its addition to PIJ's arsenal. pic.twitter.com/1Kjjd3jUbN
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) May 17, 2021
A few days after a spokesperson for Islamic Jihad thanked Iran for its support, a video surfaced on social media purporting to show the movement's fighters launching a Badr-3 missile towards Israel. This is an Iranian-made missile which made its debut when it was used by Yemen's Houthi movement in 2019 against Saudi-led coalition forces.
The Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, also acknowledged in 2019 that were it not for Iran's support "we would not have our missile capabilities." He said today that the movement can fire rockets for six months continuously. "We can turn the enemy cities into ghost towns if they decide to attack us," he warned. Amid Israel's continued heavy bombardment of civilian infrastructure in Gaza, the death toll is approaching 200 and includes 58 children and 34 women. More than 1,200 people have been wounded.