Hamas terror operatives in Gaza tunnel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran has stepped up its efforts to support Hamas in Gaza, transferring tens of millions of dollars to Izzadin Kassam, Hamas’s military wing, to help with rebuilding efforts, the Telegraph reported Sunday.
According to the report, the funds have been allocated to the rebuilding of tunnels and restocking of missile arsenals destroyed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge.
Iran’s renewed support is a sign of a revival in Iran-Hamas relations, allies previously torn apart over the conflict in Syria, where Shi’ite Iran backed President Bashar Assad, while Hamas stood by its Sunni allies.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal often resisted the Iranian support welcomed by Izzadin Kassam, the Telegraph said. Yet with the escalation of Saudi Arabian and Egyptian hostility toward Hamas, it was left with no option but to accept the Iranian support.
In addition to backing Hamas, Iran has been funding the Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Shi’ite Iraqi government forces in Tikrit.
A Western security official told the Telegraph that the Iranians are “trying very hard to increase their influence throughout the [Middle East] region.”
Yet its exerted influence is not being welcomed by other Middle Easter powers: Iran’s overseas operations arm, the Al-Quds force, has been ordered to withdraw from Tikrit, while a Saudi-led alliance in Yemen is working to counter Iran-backed Houthi forces.