Violence in the Middle East has returned with a vengeance.
The timing of Hamas’s brutal attacks has been triggered by an attempt to exploit bitter internal divisions in Israel, but at a deeper level, the attack has been fueled by Hamas’s overlord, Iran, a Shiite Muslim theocratic state that is immersed in a struggle for power. and influence throughout the Middle East.
Yesterday’s attack clearly took months, even years, of planning.
The funding to carry it out and the technology for the missiles almost certainly came from Iran, which has proxy forces throughout the region.
The chilling fact is that Tehran’s tentacles are spreading mercilessly as the regime supports other terrorist groups in Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
Iran’s mullahs, reviled by many outside Iran but also by many Iranians fed up with despotism, want to destabilize relations between the Sunni Muslim world and Israel. Recently, those relationships have been improving.
Iranians attend a rally in Tehran on Saturday in support of Palestine after Hamas militants launched a deadly air, land and sea attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Iranian Hezbollah supporters wave Palestinian flags as they celebrate the attacks that the militant group Hamas carried out against Israel.
People walk on the rubble of a tower destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Saturday.
Bob Seely is MP for the Isle of Wight
It is in all of our interests that the Arab world and Israel resolve their differences, no matter how difficult it may be, not only because that would bring peace, a good thing in itself, but also because we need to reach out to states around the world. to encourage and support democracy.
Iran is an ally of Russia and Russia is an ally of China. All three are deeply hostile to the West and wish to undermine the international order: Iran by destroying peace between Israel and the Sunni world, Russia by destroying Ukraine and challenging the West through hybrid warfare, and China by threatening Western interests in the Pacific, particularly by destabilizing Taiwan.
To be sure, Iran’s military development is being aided by Moscow, which, in turn, needs Iran’s drone technology and is using hundreds of its Shahed drones to attack military and civilian targets in Ukraine.
Just as Russia is doing in Ukraine, Iran-backed Hamas is using medium-range missiles to make life a living hell for civilians. This technology is becoming cheaper and more readily available. Every few years, Hamas becomes more sophisticated in its targeting, while the payloads the missiles can carry grow.
The most worrying danger is that these capabilities will become a threat – not only to life but to Israel itself – especially if Iran develops its own nuclear bomb, which some believe is only a matter of time.
In this dangerous context, in addition to military capacity, Iran and its proxy Hamas have been emboldened by the perception of Western weakness.
This is epitomized in the White House under President Joe Biden, a man whose political knowledge and mental acuity do not inspire confidence.
The sense of decadence that the 80-year-old exudes has been reflected in a series of events: the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan; the unilateral agreement to release American hostages held by Iran in exchange for colossal payments; and friction in US relations with Saudi Arabia.
Iran sees all of this as evidence of Western vulnerability and is eager to test us.
We must not find ourselves wanting.
Any retreat in the face of violence and intimidation would be fatal to our interests and bad for our alliances. This is what we must do. First, support Israel and ensure that Iran does not succeed in undermining the normalization of relations between Israel and other Middle Eastern nations.
Thousands of Iranians hold a rally and carry a Palestinian flag in support of Hamas and the Palestinian resistance in Tehran, Iran, on October 7.
Reserve Israeli soldiers line up to register for duty in a northern Israeli town on October 7, after the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a large-scale surprise attack on Israel.
People stand on a rooftop watch as a ball of fire and smoke rises over a building in Gaza City on Saturday.
Second, there needs to be more debate – and public debate – about what will happen if, or when, Iran obtains nuclear weapons.
Given the evil irresponsibility of Iran’s mullahs, such a moment in history would be enormously destabilizing in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The Saudis would demand nuclear guarantees or obtain their own bomb from Pakistan.
Would Europe support the United States or would Iran’s mullahs be allowed to blackmail the world?
Thirdly, in Britain we need to think urgently about missile defence. What we have seen in Ukraine, and now in Israel, is the growing importance of missile defense and the growing threat of massive missile attacks, especially given the new role of drones in warfare.
Finally, we need a much stronger response to Iranian threats of violence in the UK, both against Jewish people and against Iranian dissident groups threatened with intimidation or assassination by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
In fact, our Government should immediately ban the IRGC.
Britain is far from the Middle East, but Cyprus, which has British military bases, is not. Neither are our allies on the other side of the Gulf.
The technology Hamas uses comes from Iran, and Iran is targeting many other countries, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Make no mistake: what is happening in Israel and Ukraine is a grave warning for us.
BOB SEELY is MP for the Isle of Wight.