Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) officers has just finished setting up Hamas’ first commando unit especially trained to combat any Israel military force entering the Gaza Strip, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. The new “Al Qods Brigades” unit of 400 men is to be the first of three. A week ago, July 23, the first unit held a passing-out parade and leave-taking ceremony from its two Iranian instructors.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report that the pair arrived in the Gaza Strip in the latter half of May on Iranian passports which gave their cover names as Morteza Rahban and Hojjat Safar-Zadeh.
Their journey took them from Sudan through Egypt and Sinai where they were led by Bedouin smugglers to the contraband tunnels accessing the Gaza Strip. They went back to Tehran by the same route.
The two officers were members of the IRGC’s notorious Al Qods Brigades which undertakes overseas terrorist and covert activities on behalf of the Iranian regime. For the Al Qods commander Gen. Qassem Suleimaini, setting up a Hamas commando force in Gaza was a high and immediate priority.
This information reached the desk of US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who passed it on to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak when they met in Washington Friday, July 29. Panetta has scheduled a visit to Israel in October.
The urban guerrilla combat tactics which the Iranian instructors imparted to their Hamas trainees drew heavily on the experience al Qods is gaining in Syria, where its experts are helping President Bashar Assad crack down on protest – especially accentuating advanced disguise and camouflage techniques for striking at the enemy under cover.
Many of the weapons handed out to trainees came from Libyan rebels who received them from British and French intelligence for their war on Muammar Qaddafi. The rebels sold the arms to the purchasing agencies Iran, Hizballah and Hamas maintain secretly in Benghazi. The weapons were then smuggled to the Gaza Strip via Egypt.
The Gaza passing-out parade marked the end of an exercise the Hamas graduates carried out, which their Iranian instructors praised as “most successful.”
The new Hamas commandos were also given a cover name – The Brigades for Reconstruction and Challenge – under which they will set up more brigades in the coming six months. The newly-trained units will then fan out to the areas bordering on Israel, armed with techniques and weapons for inflicting the highest possible number of casualties on any invading force.