It was nearly seven years ago, on former President Barack Obama’s watch, when the Palestinian Islamist terrorists deliberately rained down enormous barrages of rockets on civilian population centers in Israel. Five Israeli civilians (including one child) were killed during the 2014 Gaza War. Now, for the first time since 2014, we are seeing the Palestinian terrorists engage in the same level of savagery once again, just four months into the Biden presidency.
Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have fired nearly 3000 rockets into Israel since May 10th. In that time, Israel has already reported at least nine dead, including five women and two children. Israel has responded forcefully with hundreds of air strikes in Gaza. The strikes have killed senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders and destroyed terrorist military and intelligence facilities, command headquarters, terrorist officers’ homes, and attack tunnel networks. “No Hamas officer, high or low, should feel safe over- or under- ground,” an Israeli army spokesman warned Saturday night. “Hamas will think 500 times before ever again going to war against Israel.”
The Palestinian terrorists are armed and funded by the fanatical Islamist Iranian regime. The Biden administration will not succeed in ending the violence in the long term simply by focusing on negotiating a ceasefire of the current hostilities. The Biden administration should focus instead on cutting off the terrorists’ support line at its source. Biden must abandon any negotiations with the Iranian regime and any consideration of sanctions relief that could potentially buttress Iran’s ability to bankroll Hamas and its other terrorist proxies.
The United Nations Security Council met twice last week in closed sessions to discuss the escalating crisis. On Sunday, the Security Council held an open meeting. When the speakers were not condemning Israel as the aggressor or equating the Palestinian terrorist attacks aimed at killing or wounding Israeli civilians with Israel’s military operations to defend its own citizens, they called for maximum mutual restraint and a ceasefire. Notably, the Biden administration’s UN Ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, failed in her remarks to the Security Council to re-affirm President Biden’s prior acknowledgement of Israel’s right of self-defense. Iran’s documented role as the terrorists’ main military supplier and funder was not mentioned even once.
Moral clarity requires an unambiguous acknowledgement that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups, supported by the terrorist-sponsoring Islamic Republic of Iran, are solely responsible for the violent rampage spiraling out of control. The terrorists must be held criminally to account for the dual war crimes of targeting Israel’s civilian population and launching their rockets from within Gaza’s civilian neighborhoods and institutions. The Iranian regime must be held criminally to account as the terrorists’ sponsor, aider and abettor.
As Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, put it succinctly in his remarks to the UN Security Council on Sunday, “Hamas uses children to protect its missiles. Israel uses missiles to protect its children.” And the missiles Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are firing at Israeli civilians come courtesy of the Iranian regime.
When Donald Trump was president, there was no all-out war in Gaza. There were no constant Palestinian terrorist bombardments of Israeli civilians or terrorist rockets reaching as far as Jerusalem. The Iranian regime was squeezed economically to the point that it could not be as generous with military and financial support to its terrorist proxies as it was during Obama’s eight years in the White House. Trump demonstrated his willingness to strike militarily at the heart of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) when he ordered the assassination of the IRGC Quds Force’s leader Qasem Soleimani. Trump also cut off funding to the corrupt Palestine Authority and to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The UN Palestinian refugee organization has employed individuals affiliated with Hamas over the years and has used anti-Semitic propaganda in its schools’ textbooks.
Trump’s strong support for Israel and animosity towards the Iranian regime was a welcome departure from Barack Obama’s hostility towards the Jewish state and embrace of Iran’s thuggish leaders. Obama appeased the Palestinian terrorists’ state sponsor in Tehran in order to secure the Iranians’ agreement to enter into the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He thereby helped the fanatical Islamist Iranian regime to become more generous in its support for the Palestinian terrorists.
The Iranian regime was rewarded with instant sanctions relief and pocketed billions of dollars of cash – no strings attached. The world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism no doubt used some of the money to replenish and upgrade the Palestinian terrorists’ rocket arsenal, which had been diminished by an estimated two-thirds during the 2014 Gaza War. By the spring of 2016, Hamas’s rocket arsenal totaled approximately the same number as it was prior to the 2014 Gaza War. The building of underground attack tunnels from Gaza into Israel began in earnest in 2015.
Obama also bent over backwards to fund the Palestinians during his administration, again with no strings attached. The funding did not stop after the conclusion of the 2014 Gaza War. In fact, U.S. aid to the Palestinians increased to $557 million in 2015 from $497 million in 2014.
Unfortunately, despite some rhetorical support for Israel’s right to defend its people against the terrorists’ rocket attacks (although not re-affirmed at Sunday’s UN Security Council meeting), Biden is following the same path as Obama in pursuing restoration of the JCPOA with the Iranians. The odds are heavily in favor of Biden caving to globalist pressures to make a deal with the Iranian regime.
The Iranian thugs are counting on obtaining sanctions relief and cash from the Biden administration as the price for restoring their supposed compliance with the JCPOA. With billions of dollars more in its coffers, the Iranian regime will be able to help the Palestinian terrorists replenish rocket and mortar supplies used in their current assault on Israel population centers with more advanced weaponry. The Iranian regime will have more resources to smuggle weapons, production equipment, and parts into Gaza, along with providing technology and training for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to produce more sophisticated rockets themselves.
The Biden administration is also restoring the U.S. money train to the Palestinians that Trump had derailed – at least $235 million announced so far with no strings attached. As the Washington Free Beacon reported last March, “the Biden administration privately confirmed to Congress …that the Palestinian Authority has continued to use international aid money to reward terrorists but said the finding won’t impact its plans to restart funding.”
Much of the funds will be steered through UNRWA, the Palestinians’ alter ego with a history of close ties to Hamas.
In short, with sanctions relief and more cash in hand, the Palestinian terrorists’ chief state sponsor will be right there for the Palestinian terrorists, providing them with critical support as they work their way through their current supply of rockets and mortars. And Biden’s resumption of significant financial support for the Palestinians has emboldened the Palestinian terrorists to go all out in their rocket bombardments of Israeli civilian population centers, confident that the Iranian regime will have their back.
The Palestinian Islamic terrorists and Iran’s theocratic terrorist-sponsoring regime serve each other’s purposes. They are joined at the hip in a symbiotic relationship, with the common goal of wiping Israel off the face of the earth.
Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah are among the Iranian Islamist regime’s primary terrorist proxies. Iran uses them to achieve its hegemonic ambitions in the region and to carry out its jihad to destroy the Jewish state of Israel.
“We have a religious duty to act against Israel and annihilate it,” said Islamic Revolution Guard Corps General Mohammad-Hossein Sepehr, commander of the Iranian Central Training Base,” as quoted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). “This is the command and strategy of both imams of the Revolution. This is the command and strategy of the Prophet Muhammad and of God Himself.”
The Palestinian terrorists would be little more than paper tigers without the military and financial backing of the Iranian Islamist regime. And the terrorists make no bones about publicizing their dependence on Iran.
In an interview that aired on Al-Ahd TV (Iraq), as reported by MEMRI, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s senior official Ramez Al-Halabi boasted of the support that the Iranian regime has provided to the terrorists. “The mujahideen in Gaza and in Lebanon use Iranian weapons to strike the Zionists,” he said. “We buy our weapons with Iranian money. An important part of our activity is under the supervision of Iranian experts. The contours of the victories in Palestine as of late were outlined with the blood of Qasem Soleimani, Iranian blood.”
Al-Halabi was just getting started. “I am proud to say that the rockets that are used to pound Tel Aviv have an Iranian signature on them, the signature of Qasem Soleimani,” Al-Halabi crowed. “The Kornet missiles that we use to blow up the Israeli tanks – the pride of the Israeli and global defense industry – are the Kornet missiles of Qasem Soleimani and Iran. The guns that we use to shoot at the Israeli enemy… Those who use these guns were trained by our brothers in the IRGC. We say this loud and clear.” And to make his everlasting gratitude to his Iranian patrons perfectly clear, Al-Halabi concluded by asking “Allah to reward Iran, in my name, and the Palestinian people’s name. They are the ones who support us with weapons, money and food.”
Al-Halabi didn’t need to bother beseeching Allah to reward Iran. In fact, he should thank Obama and save some of his appreciation for Biden, who is prepared to follow in the footsteps of his former boss. As Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies, put it, “the Biden administration is on the cusp of indirectly providing funds to Hamas, using Iran as a pass-through.”
In sum, the Palestinian terrorists and the thuggish Iranian regime that enables them are to blame for the deadly consequences of the rocket attacks from Gaza and of Israel’s military response, including the deaths of Palestinian civilians the terrorists regularly use as human shields. By reengaging with the Iranian regime, Biden will help Hamas and its other terrorist partners to recover from the current hostilities and emerge as an even stronger threat to peace and security in the most volatile region of the world.