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Iran 'Calls Hamas Shots'

Menashe Amir: "Iranian experts may now be launching Grad missiles for Hamas inside Gaza Strip"

"Europeans fail to understand that Iranians is manipulating Hamas in Tehran's confrontation with moderate Arab states"

"Iranian bank rollers ordered Hamas to break six-month truce and to escalate rocketing of Israel"

Civilians Injured by Grad Missile Attack in Ashkelon Evacuated by Search and Rescue Unit

Iran has been 'calling the shots' for Hamas in the current war with Israel - that's the assessment of Menashe Amir, a leading Israeli expert on Iranian affairs. Iran, which supports Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza with hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as with military aid including instructors, apparently gave the order to Hamas leader Haled Mashal in Damascus who related to the Gaza Strip. In Amir's view, there is no doubt that Iran is manipulating Hamas, as it does Hezbollah in Lebanon, not only against Israel but as part of its ongoing confrontation with Sunni Arab state in the Middle East. Egypt, Saudi-Arabia, Jordan and other Arab countries are furious over Iran's interference, something which most European countries fail to understand. In this wide-ranging interview with IsraCast, Menashe Amir analyzes various aspects of the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas continues to bombard southern Israeli cities and towns on a daily basis. On Tuesday night, in a Hamas Qassam rocket attack on Beer Sheba a kindergarten was hit.

Menashe Amir disclosed that Israel radio Persian language program and the Israel Foreign Ministry Persian language website has received hundred of messages from Iranian nationals in Iran, calling on Israel to 'finish Hamas' which day see as part and parcel of their own disaster at home, brought about by the current Iranian radical regime.

Transcript of the interview

Welcome to our IsraCast listeners world wide. We are speaking now with Menashe Amir, a leading Israeli expert on Iran. First of all, may I ask you about the Hamas missile attack on the city of Be'er-Sheva, some 40 KM from the Gaza border and which has sent shock waves throughout the Jewish state? By the way, one Grad missile hit an empty kindergarten at night. Now, firing that Grad missile, obviously requires professional expertise, is it possible that now there are Iranian experts operating the Grad missiles for Hamas inside the Gaza strip?

It proves I think two things, two main things; first that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad for the liberation of Palestine, which was established by the Iranians, have got more sophisticated missiles. We are not speaking any more about rockets but missiles, because they have some guidance apparatus in these missiles. And second, as you said, it needs some expertise on how to fire them, and there is no doubt that these are the Iranian experts who have infiltrated into Gaza Strip and they are teaching and training the Hamas and Jihad guerrillas how to operate them.

Gaza Strip Rocket Ranges

They have been training Hamas, is it also possible that today there are Iranians fighting alongside Hamas in the Gaza strip?

There have been many reports that at least seven Iranians have already infiltrated inside the Gaza Strip, but we don't have any hard evidence in this regard. A year ago Mahmoud Abbas rebut these accusations. But there is no doubt that the Iranians have their own experts, their own men inside Gaza and they teach the Hamas and Jihad how to do and what to do and Ismail Haniyeh gets a great part of his instructions directly from Iran or through Haled Mashal in Damascus and this is what the Egyptian leadership also had declared yesterday and today.

Well with regard to the Grad missiles, they are Russian designed and they are fairly large, they are quite different from the home-made Qassam rockets. Where do you think they have been getting these missiles?

Again I have no doubt that these are the Iranians who supply them. Iran has a great industry for making missiles, rockets, Katiushas, Grads and other offensive weapons and they have transferred them to the Sinai Peninsula and through the underground tunnels back inside Gaza.

Well, with this military aid, Hamas is also getting financial aid from Iran. Do you have any indication about how much money they are getting from Iran?

Iran declared two sums: The press was 50 million dollars and later they said they are giving to Hamas 250 million dollars more. But I don't have any doubt that during the last year, Iran has transferred into Gaza Strip more than hundreds of millions of dollars to finance the terrorist activities, to pay their agents, to continue to operate and to refuse the proposed ceasefire.

This brings us to the question of the Tahdia - If the Iranians are paying out those sums of money and are training Hamas, are they not as we say in English 'calling the shots' for Hamas? And could it be that Hamas got orders from Tehran not to end the six-month truce and escalate the rocketing of Israel?

That's exactly what I said. That was also the Egyptian accusation toward Hamas and even today the Egyptians demanded Iran to stop its interference in the Gaza strip. No doubt, that the decision not to continue the ceasefire was taken in Tehran and transferred to Haled Mashal in Damascus and then sent to Ismail Haniyeh, that's also what the Egyptians and some Arab sources say. Not only that, we see that a week before the end of the lull, the Iranians began a great campaign to show that Israel is an aggressive country, and Palestinians are miserable and are in the verge of disaster and even a holocaust. There are so many demonstrations inside Iran, they had declarations, they sent their diplomats to talk to other people and they tried to wage a campaign in favor of stopping the ceasefire. Not only that, three days ago Khamenei published declaration where he calls the Israelis as "al chachtered harbeech", which means 'disbelievers who wage war against Islam', and whoever wants to offend the Islam and wages war against it should be destroyed and killed, those are the orders given by Khamenei. They began to register in Tehran candidates who are ready to go to Palestine to fight for the sake of Hamas. Also Ali Mutahhari, who is a deputy in the Iranian Majlis parliament, said that we have to wage a ground attack against the Zionist entity, which means Israel, and not to fear the Israeli air force because he claimed the Iranian air force is much bigger and stronger then the Israeli. There are many politicians inside Iran who demand their regime to wage an official war against Israel and to be more involved and not to send only declarations and moral support.

So in light of your analysis, what we see today in this war between Hamas and Israel has much wider implications. It would also seem to have regional implications, because Egypt also is very much opposed to a radical Islamist state, supported by Iran on its border and situated between Israel and Egypt.

Exactly. The Arabs are very much afraid of what is going on with the Hamas cooperating with Iran. There are many articles in Arab, mainly in Egyptian news papers and even in Kuwait, Jordan and other countries, who demanded Hamas to beware of Iran, to stop the connections and cooperation. The Arabs are very much afraid that Iran is using Hamas as it has used Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad for liberation of Palestine to advance its interests and its aims in the Arab countries and the war, the confrontation between the Shiites and Sunnites - Shiites Iranians and Sunnites the Arabs.

Well as we speak the Europeans led by France are talking about a ceasefire at this point between Israel and Hamas, but such a suggestion for this kind of ceasefire at this time with the Hamas rocketing Be'er Sheva for example, seems to be over simplistic in light of what you have been saying. The Europeans seem not to understand just what's involved here, and it's not just between Israel and Hamas - that we are looking at a confrontation with Iran.

Exactly, I'm afraid that the European countries don't understand or don't realize how dangerous is Iran and what are the real aims of Iran who wants to bring a universal confrontation between the Shiite civilization and western civilization, which means Christianity. But at the same time I want to tell you and to your listeners, as you know I am working in the Israeli radio in Persian and I'm the chief editor of the foreign ministry's website in Persian and in the radio and in our website we have got hundreds of messages from Iranians who demand Israel not to stop the war, to go to the end and to finish Hamas. Some Iranians look at Hamas as part of the Iranian disaster, that the Iranian regime is not Iranian, it's Arab, it's Palestinian and it brings the Iranians into confrontation, bloodshed and destruction. They are very much opposing that, and they demand Israel to continue the war until the total destruction of Hamas, the liberation of Palestine Jihad and all other terrorist organizations, because they see a direct connection between the Iranian interference in the Arab countries, supporting of Hamas and Hezbollah, and the disaster which is happening inside Iran.

Menashe Amir

Menashe Amir is an Israeli expert on Iran and Arab Affairs, formerly head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Persian language division and the chief editor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Persian language website.

Well that sounds quite amazing, but is this opposition to the regime that strong, that in the foreseeable future there could be a ground swell in Iran against what this radical Islamic regime is doing?

Unfortunately my answer is negative, I'm speaking about the Iranian citizens who are not organized, who do not have any force and they cannot stand against the suppression done by their regime. These are only voices that we hear from citizens who cannot influence the future of the regime in Iran or any decision making of the regime.

David Essing

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