Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Israel represents an inflection point in Iran’s four-decade conflict with Israel. It is a culmination of the Shiite Islamist regime’s efforts to exploit chronic turmoil within the Arab world, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and entrench itself in the strategic environs of the Jewish state. Israel in its counteroffensive will likely seriously degrade Hamas’ war-making capabilities. However, Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies on Israel’s northern flank will remain a longer-term threat.
Israeli and U.S. officials maintain that they do not have smoking-gun intelligence on Iran’s involvement in the extremely sophisticated Oct. 7 attack, in which hundreds of Hamas militants targeted several Israeli townships along the Gaza border, killing more than a thousand people and abducting some 150 others. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Oct. 10 that “Iran is complicit in this attack in a broad sense” but that Washington thus far has no evidence that Tehran was directly involved. Sullivan said the U.S. intelligence community was working hard to determine the precise role of the Islamic republic in the attack. Earlier, in an Oct. 9 press briefing, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Maj. Nir Dinar said, “Just because you don’t have that evidence doesn’t necessarily mean Iran isn’t behind it.” He said that Israel had “no evidence or proof” of Iranian involvement, but neither did it have intel to see the attack coming.