The Iranian regime is reviving support for the Sunni terror group ruling Gaza in wake of nuclear agreements with the White House.
Tehran has transferred tens of millions of dollars to Hamas’s military arm over the last few months, according to The Wall Street Journal. The money will assist militants in repairing tunnels destroyed by the Israeli Defense Forces last summer.
Hamas’s military wing, dubbed the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades, is also replenishing its “depleted stocks of medium-range missiles,” reports Con Coughlin, a WSJ contributor.
Qassem Suleimani, leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force, allegedly ordered the money transfer. The Iranian operative, reportedly sighted in conflict zones in Syria and Baghdad, designated annual funds to support Hamas’s military activities, according to the WSJ.
Relations between Iran and Hamas split over the Syrian crisis three years ago — ending ten years of Tehran support — with Iran siding with long-time ally, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and Hamas siding with Sunni opposition leaders.
Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas’s political wing, left Damascus over the differences. Meshaal moved to Qatar, resulting in the Sunni Gulf state becoming Hamas’s primary financial backer, promising billions for repairs following Israel’s latest military operation against the group.
According to the WSJ, Meshaal “has not always enjoyed a good working relationship with commanders of the military wing in Gaza, who often complain that he doesn’t have a full grasp of their needs.”
Now, Iran appears to be exploiting the rift by reviving its support of Hamas, vying to replace Qatar as the group’s main donor. Although Iran typically supports Shiite allies, such as Iraqi Shiite militias fighting the Islamic State, it shares a common strategy with Sunni Hamas – to destroy Israel.
Hamas’s strategic location gives Iran influence over a second border with Israel, in addition to militants from its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon.
As Iran accelerates its funding for the Gaza-based terror group, leaders are negotiating a deal with the U.S. and European powers over its nuclear capabilities. The premise of negotiations is for Iran to limit its nuclear power in exchange for the eventual lifting of economic sanctions.
If sanctions are lifted, it will free up funding for Iranian proxies like Hezbollah.