Iran helped Hamas develop missile technology used to attack Israel

Residential building in Ashkelon damaged by rocket launched overnight from Gaza Strip – AMIR COHEN / REUTERS

Iran has played a key role in helping militant Palestinian group Hamas develop the arsenal of deadly weapons that have enabled it to hit targets deep within Israel, according to Western intelligence officials.

Senior Hamas commanders are believed to have visited Iran regularly, where they received training in the production and operation of sophisticated weapon systems, as well as the inspection of controlled rocket production facilities. by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The IRGC’s elite Quds Force – which translates to “Jerusalem Force” – is responsible for Iran’s relations with Hamas. Qassim Soleimani, the late unit commander, took personal responsibility for overseeing the buildup of Hamas weapons until he was killed in a drone strike authorized by former US President Donald Trump. last January.

Intelligence officials believe that Iran’s technological assistance, which includes detailed advice on setting up Hamas’s own production infrastructure in Gaza, has resulted in a significant improvement in the organization’s capacity. terrorist to strike targets deep inside Israel.

Over the past few days, Hamas rockets have struck major Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv and Lod, and have allowed Hamas to focus on particular targets, such as the country’s main Ben-Gurion airport, prompting a number of major airlines to cancel their flights. a safety precaution.

Israel's Iron Dome (L) missile defense system intercepts rockets (R) fired by Hamas - ANAS BABA & # xa0;  / AFP

Israel’s Iron Dome (L) missile defense system intercepts rockets (R) fired by Hamas – ANAS BABA / AFP

Cooperation between Iran and Hamas has intensified over the past five years as the Palestinian group sought to improve its military capabilities after its defeat at the hands of Israeli forces in 2014, when the military Israeli launched a ground offensive aimed at destroying the terrorist Hamas. Infrastructure.

“The collaboration between Iran and Hamas has allowed the organization to have much more effective weapons,” a senior Western intelligence official told the Daily Telegraph. “Iran’s assistance has dramatically improved the range, accuracy and scale of destruction that weapons can cause.”

Since the latest clashes between Israel and Palestinian militants erupted last week, Hamas and other Gaza-based Islamist terrorist groups, such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have fired around 1,600 rockets at Israel.

The IDF responded by launching hundreds of airstrikes in Gaza, and there are growing fears that Israeli forces are preparing to mount another ground offensive in the enclave.

Israeli defense officials estimate that Hamas and other Islamist terrorist groups based in Gaza have around 30,000 rockets and missiles. Previously, Hamas relied on short-range Qassam rockets, which have a range of around 6 miles and were used to attack the nearby Israeli seaport of Ashkelon.

But in the latest attacks on Israel, Hamas used medium-range rockets with a range of 25 miles, as well as the M-75 and J-80 rockets, which have a range of between 50 and 60 miles. Israeli defense officials believe these rockets were made in Gaza based on an Iranian design.

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