Iran may have known about the deadly attacks by Hamas militants on southern Israel, according to one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest allies in cabinet.
(Bloomberg) — Iran may have known about the deadly attacks by Hamas militants on southern Israel, according to one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest allies in cabinet.
“Did they know about this beforehand?” Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “Initially, we didn’t think that they did. Now there’s some evidence that they might have known about it. We are working to verify that evidence.”
Iran is the “biggest enemy of all” for Israel, Dermer said, adding that it a key sponsor of Hamas, providing money and equipment.
The combined death toll from the attacks on Saturday and fighting since then has topped 1,400, with at least 900 Israelis reported killed.
An incursion by Hamas, a Palestinian group which rules the Gaza Strip and is classified as a terrorist organization by the US, marked the biggest Israeli intelligence failure in decades.
It has shaken the nation. Oil jumped on Monday, with traders worried the conflict will trigger renewed instability in the Middle East and potentially lead Israel to strike Iran. So far, Israeli officials, as well as counterparts in the US and Europe, have broadly blamed Iran but said there’s no direct evidence it orchestrated the weekend attack.
“It’s still not clear to us that they might have done it,” said Dermer. “But I have to tell you they are working right now to bring more and more terror groups into this fight.”
Shock Incursion on Weakened Israel Imperils Regional Geopolitics
Dermer, who’s long been an ally of Netanyahu, said Israel’s response against militants in Gaza and beyond would be severe. But he declined to say if Israeli ground forces would move into the strip, something they haven’t done on a major scale since 2014. Then, the incursion lasted seven weeks and killed more than 2,000 Palestinians along with dozens of Israelis.
“It may take some time,” said Dermer. “But we’re going to exact such a high price that not only will Hamas never consider doing this again, I think none of Israel’s enemies are going to ever think of doing something like this again.”
–With assistance from Jonathan Ferro, Tom Keene, Edward Dufner and Lisa Abramowicz.
(Updates with more quotes on Iran funding Hamas.)
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