Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar and deputy commander of its military arm, Marwan Issa, spent the second week of September in Beirut and Tehran finalizing and signing protocols covering a binding commitment by the radical Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip to join Iran, Syria and Hizballah in a war on Israel, DEBKAfile’s exclusive military sources disclose.
The protocols set out in detail the circumstances, procedures and terms governing Hamas’s participation in a conflict, whether it arises from an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program or the involvement of Iran’s allies, Syria and Hizballah, in comprehensive or partial hostilities against Israel. Hamas agreed to obey any orders to attack the Jewish state coming from Tehran, Damascus or Beirut.
Tehran also required A-Zahar and Issa to attach their signatures to copies of the military understandings Iranian National Security Director Saeed Jalili concluded with Bashar Assad during his visit to Damascus on Aug. 7. Those understandings, DEBKAfile reports, touched off the massive Iranian airlift currently carrying hundreds of military personnel and weapons day by day to the embattled Syrian regime.
Hamas’s signature provided a booster shot of 22,000 trained fighters including reservists for the battle array of elite Iranian al Qods Brigades units building up in Syria and Lebanon and taking up positions along Israel’s borders.
This buildup prompted the large-scale snap military exercise Israel staged on the Golan Wednesday, Sept. 19. Most of the forces stayed on after the exercise was over and spread out along the Syrian and Lebanese borders.
The directives Hamas leaders received in Tehran after their meetings with top officials were detailed and precise. They were handed down in person by Defense Minister Ahmed Wahidi, Revolutionary Guards Chief Gen. Ali Jafari, the Al Qods Brigades commander, Qassem Soleimani, and a select group of Iranian intelligence experts on the Israel.
Those orders were presented in the language of commands and brooked no argument. Tehran had two goals:
1. To leave no leeway for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, of which the Palestinian Hamas is an offshoot, to veto the pledges Hamas signed in Tehran. The Palestinian Hamas was put on notice that the group was now under contract to defer to Tehran in military matters ahead of Cairo.
2. Iran, Hizballah and Syria instructed Hamas to stop obstructing Jihad Islami’s activities in the Gaza Strip and be ready to operate in harmony with Iran’s Palestinian proxy against Israel. In a potential outbreak of war, both must take their orders from Iran’s Middle East command.
For placing itself under Tehran’s jackboot, Hamas was assured of the resumption of Iranian economic aid and fresh supplies of missiles, advanced hi-tech war equipment to improve the accuracy of its rocket attacks on Israel – which rarely hit much – and anti-air weapons systems.
Iran had been keeping Hamas short pending the guarantees and pledges of allegiance A Zahar carried to Tehran and Beirut in the round trips he made between Sept 8 and 13. Even then, to make sure there were no loopholes in their accords, the Iranians forced the Hamas delegation to break its journey home to the Gaza Strip in Beirut, repeat their commitments to Tehran to Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah and re-sign the documents in his presence. Failing to honor the deal, they warned, would elicit the immediate cutoff of Iranian aid and supplies.
DEBKAfile’s military analysts report Hamas’ decision to unreservedly hitch its star to the Iranian wagon produced immediate fallout – especially on Egyptian-Israeli relations and counter-terror operations in Egyptian Sinai.
Friday, Islamist terrorists breached the Egyptian-Israeli border from Sinai, shot dead IDF Corp. Netanel Yahalomi and injured a second soldier, before the IDF killed three of the gunmen in a shootout. In the last year, Sinai has become the stamping ground for al Qaeda cells and allied Islamic terrorists. Egypt’s new rulers have proved unequal to the job of controlling the territory.
At the same time, Cairo is demanding the revision of the 1979 peace treaty’s military clauses. President Mohamed Morsi said Sunday, Sept 23, that his government would uphold the peace pact with Israel only if US commits to helping the Palestinians attain self-rule.
Israeli leaders are now asking what guarantees is President Morsi offering for offsetting any Iranian-orchestrated Hamas war operations from Gaza in line with the accord they have just signed in Tehran and Beirut.
Furthermore, they ask, what happens to the al Qaeda cells and other military groups rampant in Sinai? Up until now Iran and Hamas ran their ties with those terrorists on separate tracks. Will they now effect a merger?
A note of foreboding on this score was struck by Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz Sunday, Sept. 23, when he toured the scene of the last shootout with Sinai terrorists.
“The Sinai border will continue to present us with a challenge,” he said. “We have made a colossal effort in the last two years to seal off the Egyptian border and it will be done. But even then, the threat will not disappear.”