Iran helping Hamas build a standing army, report says

The proposed Iranian-backed military force would be a joint Hamas-Islamic Jihad army.

By World Israel News Staff 

During a visit to Tehran a month ago, a senior Hamas delegation discussed with Iranian leaders the development of closer ties that also included the establishment of a standing army in the Gaza Strip, reports the Israel Hayom daily.

The visit by the delegation was widely and openly reported, but the formation of a full-fledged military force was a lesser-known aspect of the agenda, which emerges, says the Israeli newspaper, only upon further review of Palestinian and other Arab media reports.

The proposed Iranian-backed military force would be a joint Hamas-Islamic Jihad army, according to Israel Hayom.

The report relies on research by Yoni Ben-Menachem of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, (JCPA) who says that Hamas is now boasting a new manufacturing plant for explosives belts and is also hinting at a network of tunnels, apparently within Gaza, that would transport fighters from one location to another in the event of an Israeli invasion of the Strip.

Ties between Iran and Hamas had been cut for several years but revived by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. Last month’s meetings in Iran signaled a step up in relations and included one with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since overthrowing the Palestinian Authority there in June 2007.

According to Israel Hayom, the plan is to impose control of the Iran-Hamas military also over the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria.

Efforts recently have been made by the terror organization to make inroads in Judea and Samaria as well.

The smaller Islamic Jihad terror organization also maintains close ties with the Islamic Republic.

Israel has issued a warning to Gazan residents that they will continue to suffer because the leadership in the Strip cares more about relations with Tehran than about Palestinian civilians.

“Hostile elements near and far, attempting to ignite a war, are dragging you into violence and destroying the stability and security of your home,” wrote the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun in an Arabic-language message which he posted on his Facebook page on Monday.

“Islamic Jihad, in the service of Iran, is causing destabilization again and again and harming the security of the area,” he wrote, telling the Gazan population: “You are the ones who will suffer the consequences.”