Israelis — Arabs, Jews, and Christians alike — are being terrorized, as thousands of Iranian-supplied rockets fired by Hamas in Gaza rain down on multiple cities including Tel Aviv, and Islamist rioters, incited to kill Jews by their leaders, wreak havoc in Jerusalem. This apparently sudden conflagration is anything but. The escalating violence, both on the streets and in the attacks by Hamas, is all deliberate, and it can be traced directly back to Iran.
Iran’s motivations are plain to see. Facing a balance of payments crisis, with accessible foreign currency reserves down to $4 billion from $183 billion, according to the World Bank, the Islamic Republic has been brought low by America’s robust enforcement of sanctions, while popular dissatisfaction with the regime is reaching critical levels. It has also been cut off at the knees by the new era of Arab-Israeli comity heralded by the Abraham Accords. No other country is as threatened by the new Middle East as Iran, and no group of recalcitrant Jew-hating terrorists wants to upend Israel’s growing ties across the Arab and Islamic world more than Iran’s client, Hamas.
With the Biden administration showing every sign that it’s willing to bend over backwards for Iran to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Islamic Republic has been emboldened and has concluded that now is the perfect time to test the mettle of the United States by targeting Israel. It’s also an opportunity to undermine Israel’s fledgling friendships in the Arab world by making it politically difficult for Arab states to continue their outreach to Jerusalem.
It is no surprise to see Iran and Hamas disguising their strategic escalation and attacks by leveraging local grievances to justify terror and inflame popular tension and violence. However, it is deeply disturbing to see some on the Left, including Democratic members of Congress, appear to embrace a pro-Hamas counterfactual narrative blaming Israel for defending itself.
Iran’s proxy, Hamas, has its own domestic motivations to renew hostilities against Israel. Angered by last week’s postponement of the first Palestinian elections in 15 years, in which Hamas expected to defeat the ruling Fatah party of PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas and consolidate its control, Hamas is showing that it has the power to create chaos when it doesn’t get what it wants.
Israel will almost certainly need to invade Gaza to halt the thousands of rockets being fired into its territory, an unprovoked threat to lives, society, and economy that no democratically elected government could abide. From the perspective of Iran and its proxies, the more civilian casualties among the Palestinians, the better the propaganda victory and the more fodder for its hateful campaign against the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, Iran is now enriching uranium to 63%, far more than the 3.5% needed for an allegedly peaceful nuclear power program. The regime continues to stonewall the world, refusing access to approximately 10 now-known nuclear weapons sites, locations the U.S. was not aware of when the Obama administration negotiated the JCPOA.
As nuclear talks continue in Vienna, overseen by the same Obama administration staffers who so richly rewarded Iranian and Palestinian intransigence and violence and who now talk openly of impending sanctions relief for Iran absent any concessions, Tehran and its proxies are responding accordingly. The regime has returned to the provocative behavior not tolerated under the Trump administration, will increase its threats and demands, will create diplomatic diversions, and will do its best to undermine the emergence of a more unified and peaceful Middle East.
For Iran and Hamas, unity among Arab states, and especially between Arabs states and Israel, poses an existential threat. By creating a security crisis and attempting to shatter the progress of regional and internal Muslim-Jewish integration, the same forces that supported Syrian President Bashar Assad’s slaughter of his own people, fund terrorism around the world, and seek regional hegemony are working overtime to prevent the emergence of a new Middle East that chooses modernity over medievalism.
The attacks on Israel that we are now seeing were absent under the Trump administration precisely because all parties, from Ramallah to Gaza to Tehran, understood that this behavior would not be tolerated. Given the stakes for America and the region, the Biden administration would do well to reconsider any policies that embolden Israel’s foes and must make it clear to Hamas and Iran that their latest gambit will not succeed.
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