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Hamas’ slaughter has Iran’s fingerprints – Ehud Yaari on ABC radio

Oct 11, 2023 | AIJAC staff

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On ABC Radio National “Drive” (9 October 2023), veteran Israeli journalist and frequent AIJAC guest Ehud Yaari discussed the elaborate and detailed planning behind Hamas’ horrific slaughter of more than 1,000 Israelis on the weekend and highlighted the extent of Iran’s involvement.


Transcript

Andy Park: As part of ongoing attacks on Israel. Palestinian militants have reportedly taken more than 130 people to Gaza as hostages. Now they include women, children and the elderly. And relatives and friends are now waiting anxiously for news of their welfare. Ehud Yaari is a veteran Israeli journalist and fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He joins me from Jerusalem. Ehud, welcome to you. What do we know about these hostages that were seized by the militants? Do we have any idea where they’ve been taken? I suppose that would be a subject of much secrecy.

Ehud Yaari: They were taken by different groups of the Hamas commandos that broke the fence and also by a mob of civilians from Gaza that rushed through the broken fence to plunder Israeli settlements and took back with them hostages. At this point, Hamas themselves do not have a clear idea how many they do they have, where are all of them. It’s apparently about 160 number, including American citizens, Thai workers and others. And and there is there are no talks about their fate now since Hamas has indicated that they would demand a release of all terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails, in return for their release. And this is, of course, out of the question.

Andy Park: In fact, CNN reported this morning around midday today that there were 12 Thai citizens thought to have been killed, 11 others kidnapped during the conflict in Israel. That’s according to Thailand’s foreign ministry. Also, a number of other international citizens, at least ten Nepali citizens and two Ukrainians were also killed. That’s according to their own respective authorities. Have there been any demands for negotiation or any kind of communications with Hamas over the fate of these hostages?

Ehud Yaari: No. You see this from an Israeli point of view. And I think Hamas, too. This is not the priority right now. It’s a tragedy. It’s a very complicated humanitarian situation. But this is not what people are dealing with it. Now, of course, you have the families here in Israel organising, expressing their wish that the government will make it a priority. But after what has happened and the, on October 7th, with 700 Israelis killed and the priority now is to get going to remove Hamas from Gaza. And if Hamas thought that by taking hostages and they planned for it, they will deter Israel or limit the the scope of the coming operations, then they were wrong.

Andy Park: So are you essentially saying that the fate of the hostages isn’t important given everything else that’s going on? I mean, does that mean sacrificing the hostages? We’re talking about women and children here.

Ehud Yaari: No. God forbid, no. Hamas will get the warnings. And there have been passing messages to Hamas about the hostages through Egypt already, etcetera. And but the hostages will not serve as a protective shield for Hamas, after what they have done. And if people wait for the Israeli army to send in four armoured divisions tomorrow morning, this is not going to happen. It will take time. It will be preceded by a a quite lengthy operation, mainly air force and artillery to paralyse the Gaza Strip completely. All supplies to Gaza were discontinued. No fuel. No electricity. No traffic of goods and merchandise through the crossing points. And this will continue because if you talk to any Israeli in the street. Whether a supporter of Bibi or opponent of Bibi. Everybody will tell you we cannot tolerate Hamas anymore controlling Gaza Strip.

Andy Park: You’re a veteran foreign policy analyst in Israel. I’m curious your thoughts about the kind of broader geopolitical ramifications of these attacks, Iran, Lebanon. I mean, how might the region be further destabilised by the events of the weekend?

Ehud Yaari: You know, a few days ago, the National Security Council had in the US, Jake Sullivan said the Middle East have not have not been so quiet as it is now. Of course, he was wrong. I believe what we see is very simple. The prospect of an Israeli-Saudi normalisation under US auspices is deemed by the Islamic Republic in Tehran as a major threat. And they were out to sabotage it. How did they do it? Through a series of at least six, eight months consultations and planning, together with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas. And it was, it is absolutely clear to me that Hamas would not have mounted an attack on this scale unless they have received Iranian guarantee that if Israel goes full force into Gaza, Hezbollah will start lobbing rockets into Israel. This, without this, I fail to see how the leadership of Hamas would undertake such an operation. So the general idea was to embroil the region, not just Israel, to a region in a confrontation which will make the normalisation deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia impossible, at least for the moment. And I wouldn’t exclude you, you were speaking, rightly so, about regional dimensions. I wouldn’t be surprised if at one point we will see the Houthi rebels in Yemen firing cruise missiles into the port of Eilat, the southernmost point of Israel. Et cetera. This is a big deal orchestrated, by the Iranians. And what happened is that Hamas has adopted Hezbollah’s own plan for attack in the north. Copied it and implemented it in the south.

Andy Park: Is there any evidence for Hezbollah’s involvement here and Iran’s involvement?

Ehud Yaari: Oh, sure. A, you just have to read their statements. And Hezbollah was already firing yesterday and they went on full alert. And the Iranians, the head of the Quds Force, that’s the expeditionary force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, General Ismail Khani, was almost every fortnight in Beirut and Damascus talking to the top leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. About what? Only about that. And we saw some techniques that Hamas used on the seventh to break the fence, the obstacle. They were Iranian tactics. And you have also Iranian weapons and know-how, which were flooding, uh, Gaza. For example, using of motorised gliders to cross the fence. Using quadrupters. Uh, uh, the disrupting the Israeli army communication system, uh, at the beginning. That was a major operation. They went into 23 villages and towns, at least one of them 30km away from Gaza Strip. They went there on their own. Toyota Land Cruisers with heavy machine guns at the back. And they have captured for a short while, no less than 11 military positions.

Andy Park: Ehud, we’re going to have to leave it there. We’re out of time. Ehud Yaari, I do appreciate you joining me this early in the morning in Jerusalem.

Ehud Yaari: You’re welcome.

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