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Why Israel has kept peddling the false narrative of Iran involvement in the October attack

January 18, 2024 at 9:00 am

A salvo of rockets is fired by Hamas militants towards Israel in Gaza City on October 13, 2023 [MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images]

The Israeli propaganda narrative linking Iran to Hamas’s 7 October attack has all but receded, after dominating the headlines in the aftermath of the attack and continuing for, at least, throughout October. It has not been completely forgotten, though. Instead, it is being replaced by a more fitting narrative that appears reconciled with the situation on the ground— the fact that Tehran is supporting Hamas. But Tehran has never really shied away from this as a given fact of its foreign policy. Iran has always prided itself in supporting the underdogs, particularly in Palestine.

Furthermore, Tehran sees Hamas as a regional ally, regardless of what others, like the United States, think of Hamas. For Tehran, Hamas, and many other organisations, is a Movement with whom it shares certain political and ideological lines and political principles. Objectively, it is no different from, for example, how the United Kingdom – or the US, for that matter – boasts about shared values with Ukraine.

Also, within the regional context, Hamas is not alone in being a Tehran ally but the list includes Lebanon’s Hezbollah and others in Iraq and Yemen. Some such Movements, particularly in Iraq and Lebanon, do have military wings associated with them and they tend to be, generally, anti-US. But this does not mean they are definitely terrorists, as the US and some of its allies label them. In the case of Yemen, it is a totally different situation, given the fact that Ansar Allah, the Houthis, emerged within the country’s civil war and it is now a government, even if not fully recognised as such.

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The Israeli and American governments, in their efforts to discredit Iran, refer to Tehran’s allies as “terrorist”, and usually their mention is prefixed by the words “Iran-backed”. In terms of international relations, there is nothing wrong with being supported by country A or country B. However the extent of “backing” might be an issue here, since political backing is different from military backing. Let us remember that, back in 2011, the US, UK and many others, supported “armed groups” in Libya and Syria, while knowing that some such groups were openly terrorists.

Also, and in the current context of the Israeli genocide in Gaza, the US, for example, is backing Israel both politically and militarily, in addition to the billions of dollars it provides to Tel Aviv annually. The US has never shied away from acknowledging this support in all its manifestations. Yet, when the Israeli army kills thousands of Palestinian women and children it is never said, for example, “US-backed Israeli army” bombed Gaza.

When Israeli officials refer to Iran nowadays, they are implicitly expressing a wish that the Biden administration will take military action against Iran, which explains why they are always linking Hamas, Hezbollah and Ansar Allah in Yemen to Tehran, even when it is out of context.

The immediate effect of that narrative was Biden’s ill-advised decision to send the “USS Gerald R. Ford” aircraft carrier into the region right after the Hamas assault, while he warned anyone who may be thinking of exploiting the Gaza war. At the same time, the US kept warning against the war spreading when, in reality, it was helping to do just that.

Most Israel-supporting Western governments joined Biden in warning about the war expanding into a regional conflict involving Iran and its allies, like Hezbollah, in both Iraq and Lebanon. But neither Iran nor its regional allies were actually interested in conflict, simply because none of them knew anything about the 7 October daring Hamas’s Al-Aqsa Flood Operation. Wars are usually fought by allies who coordinate their moves from the start and, for any country – or organisations, for that matter – to join the Palestinian Resistance, they should have been consulted and informed about every single detail, including during the planning stages. This has not been the case in the current situation in Gaza. It is for practical reasons that Hamas could have never told Iran or any of its other regional allies of its plans to humiliate Israel on 7 October, simply because that is a very risky proposition to start with. Iran and Hezbollah have always denied any prior knowledge of what Hamas was planning, but this does not mean they did not like what it did.

On the other hand and, as early as 11 October, most Western intelligence agencies, including the US, confirmed that Iran had nothing to do with Hamas’s courageous invasion of the Occupation State.

It took Biden some time to realise that he was the victim of wider Israeli propaganda and lies, as he has been from day one, when he claimed to have seen pictures of burned babies in their cribs. He later realised that it is Israel, not Iran or its allies, who wanted a wider regional conflict.

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By early November, the entire White House was convinced that Netanyahu’s war objectives in Gaza are untenable, imaginary and unpractical, at best. They switched from supporting the total annihilation of Hamas to severely downgrading its military capabilities, but never publicly admitting it. Behind the scenes, the US started to beg Israel to kill fewer Palestinians while, at the same time, pushing, softly though, Netanyahu to allow more aid into Gaza and consider some sort of  a US blessed negotiated peace deal with Hamas.

Well into the fourth month of the Israeli genocide in Gaza, officialdom Israeli and its supporting-media outlets still talk about Iran’s role in many different ways. By consistently singling out Tehran, Israel wants to drag the US into attacking it, at least once. That scenario would help Tel Aviv achieve multiple goals, some of which have eluded it for years. One important, yet unrelated to the current conflict, is ending any hope of reviving the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu has, on many occasions, pushed the US to never renew the deal and always preached the use of force against Iran while it was still under sanctions. The nuclear file is now frozen, but reviving it is not out of the question. A US attack on Iran would also shift the focus away from Gaza, providing perfect cover for two important Israeli goals: one, allowing it to commit more genocide and, two, it will cover its failure, so far, to achieve its war stated goals, including the annihilation of Hamas.

Keeping the false narrative of Iranian involvement in the Hamas assault last October also serves Netanyahu’s larger strategy of prolonging the war and igniting a wider conflict. He is facing potential jail time and more charges could come when what happened on 7 October is fully investigated. He desperately needs a diversion of attention away from himself.

For now, though, it appears that neither the US nor Iran or its allies are interested in a larger war—Netanyahu is not really happy about it.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.