Hamas’ unprovoked, major escalation of conflict and violence against Israel was so off-script that it seems even Iranian intelligence didn’t see it coming.
According to U.S. intelligence, senior Iranian officials were caught off-guard by the brazen and inhuman attack by Hamas against Israel that has left more than 1,200 dead and thousands more injured. The attacks have sparked increasingly violent acts in the region. Thousands more are dead on both sides, many of them civilians, including women and children.
The U.S. has repeatedly accused Iran of supporting Hamas with weapons and funds, but intelligence assets have yet to uncover any evidence linking Hamas’ devastating Oct. 7 attacks on Israeli civilians to Tehran.
“[W]e have said since the beginning that Iran is complicit in this attack in a broad sense because they have provided the lion’s share of the funding for the military wing of Hamas,” Jake Sullivan, U.S. national security adviser, told news outlets. He added that the U.S. believes that “they [Iran] have provided training, they have provided capabilities, they have provided support, and they have had engagement and contact with Hamas over years and years.”
Reports indicate that U.S. intelligence is still in the process of collecting additional data and information, but initial reports indicate that, while Iranian senior officials are typically always in the know about operations in the area, they were completely unaware that Hamas planned a major offensive against Israel. Iran may be involved with Hamas in a more general sense, but it seems that as of this moment, Iran had no direct knowledge or involvement in the Palestinian extremist group’s recent attack on Israel.
Retaliatory attacks persist as the number of casualties continue to rise
Meanwhile, there seems to be no end in sight to hostilities in the region. Israel reported using as many as 6,000 bombs in the last six days against Hamas, as well as against facilities and infrastructure — some of it residential. Millions of residents in the Gaza Strip have lost access to electricity. Palestinian authorities report that entire neighborhoods have been decimated by Israeli strikes. Casualties in the Gaza strip have rapidly reached the same number of Israeli fatalities from the Hamas attack, and officials estimate the dead to number around 1,200.
The attack has unified Israel, a country that has become more divided in recent times. Prior to the attacks, there had been weekly anti-government protests against the administration of long-time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but what is shaping to be the most radical and most violent offensive against the Jewish state has united the nation in mourning, grief, and anger toward their Palestinian neighbors.
In the U.S., one of the greater concerns regards the hostages held by Hamas, which include a number of U.S. citizens. No official number has been released of how many U.S. citizens are among the hostages, but 22 U.S. nationals were reported to have been killed during Hamas’ initial offensive against Israel. Republican Texas Representative Michael McCaul, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that “dozens” of Americans are being held by Hamas. He said that the U.S. government is closely working with Israeli officials in a possible rescue attempt, which may involve the use of U.S. special forces and hostage rescue teams.
Tim Ramos has written for various publications, corporations, and organizations – covering everything from finance, politics, travel, entertainment, and sports – in Asia and the U.S. for more than 10 years.