On October 10, 2023, three days after the Hamas attack on southern Israel, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei set out Iran's official position – i.e. that Iran had no hand in the attack.
However, statements by some senior Iranian officials and leaders of the Palestinian resistance groups indicate that one of the aims of the attack was to thwart the U.S.-Saudi-Israel initiative to expand Saudi-Israeli normalization, implement the Saudi solution to the Palestinian issue, and grant legitimacy to a Saudi nuclear program. This is because this joint initiative would cause strategic damage to Iran and to the resistance axis that it leads.
This rationale for the attack, as presented by senior Iranian officials and by officials from the Iranian proxy groups Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), strengthen the claim that Iran had a hand in the October 7 attack against Israel and that its proxies are operating on its behalf in order to advance its interests and its goal of destroying Israel.
The following are acknowledgements by Iranian regime officials and by leaders of Palestinian groups belonging to the Iran-backed resistance axis that one of the aims of the Hamas attack was to thwart the U.S.-Saudi-Israel normalization initiative.
Khamenei Advisor Velayati: The Palestinians' "Victorious Operation... Has Assured The Imminent Destruction Of The [Zionist] Regime"; We Welcome This Great Strategic Victory, Which Constitutes A Serious Warning To All [Countries] In The Region [That Seek] To Normalize Relations" With Israel
Ali Akhbar Velayati, international affairs advisor to Khamenei, sent letters on October 7, 2023 to PIJ leader Ziyad Al-Nakhalah and Hamas Political Bureau head Isma'il Haniyeh praising the resistance of the Palestinian people and Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, which he said "assured the imminent destruction of this [Zionist] regime." He also warned the countries that seek to normalize relations with Israel not to do so. The following are excerpts from his letter:
"Peace and the blessings of God upon the oppressed and strong Palestine and on the fighters who march on God's path and continue to fight, to sacrifice [their lives], and to show their strength more proudly than in the past. The pictures that were published today [October 7, 2023] from the Palestinian resistance operation against the criminal Zionist regime – [an operation] that destroyed the hegemony of this regime – are a great victory that will lead to fear and amazement among the enemies and to joy and gladness among the Muslims worldwide, particularly in Western Asia [i.e. the Middle East].
"The era of the terrorist Zionist regime's control and tyranny has ended, and what is happening today in the occupied territories is [but] a small manifestation of the growing might and authority of the Islamic resistance front in Palestine. The Al-Aqsa Storm operation, which is a response to the Zionist regime's ongoing crimes in the occupied territories, has fundamentally changed the power relations in occupied Palestine, and will place the Zionist regime in a position of even greater weakness. This victorious operation, that will certainly facilitate and hasten the collapse of the Zionist regime, has assured the imminent destruction of this regime.
"We welcome this great strategic victory, which constitutes a serious warning to all [the countries] in the region [that seek] to normalize relations [with this regime]. [We congratulate] the Muslim nation, the zealous Palestinian nation, the commanders and fighters of the Islamic resistance groups, and the families of the martyrs and the wounded, and we believe that these increasing victories will continue until this criminal regime is destroyed."
Ali Akhbar Velayati, international affairs advisor to Khamenei (Source: Tasnim, Iran, October 7, 2023)
IRGC Deputy Commander Ali Fadavi: "The Plot To Normalize With Israel Has Been Disrupted"; The Resistance's "Victory Will Be Achieved Very Quickly"
Ali Fadavi, deputy commander of the IRGC, said on October 17, 2023 at an IRGC commemoration ceremony for IRGC martyrs in the city of Semnan: "The Zionist and U.S. plot with regard to Israel's normalization with the countries of the region has been disrupted by virtue of the Al-Aqsa Flood." Below are his statements at the ceremony:
"If the front of truth arises, we must then know that God has promised victory to the true front, and to the party of God, and we must then always act as if we are at the front of truth. The party of God is always dominant and triumphant – this is the divine promise. Today, by virtue of the blessing of Islamic Iran, the resistance front, the soul of the Imam, and the IRGC solidarity, Hizbullah's capabilities will spread in all directions. The Al-Aqsa Flood was a clear defeat that the Zionists cannot rid themselves of. [Israel's] oppression will be defeated, and the front of truth will remain standing. The Zionist and U.S. plot with regard to Israel's normalization with the countries of the region has been disrupted by virtue of the Al-Aqsa Flood. Praise to God, the situation at the resistance fronts is good, and the Palestinian fighters are patient and persistent, and the people are fearless; victory will be achieved very quickly..."
Iranian Foreign Minister Abdollahian To Hamas Deputy Leader Al-Arouri And PIJ Deputy Leader Nakhalah: "The Palestinian Issue Will Not End With The Normalization Of Relations Between Some Countries And The Zionist Regime"
SUPPORT OUR WORK
At an October 13, 2023 meeting in Beirut with senior Hamas and PIJ officials, Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian said that "the resistance is the unquestionable right of the Palestinian people against the occupation."
He added that the Palestinian officials who participated in the meeting "see Operation Al-Aqsa Flood as a natural resistance response on the part of the Palestinian people to the daily and continuous crimes of the Zionist regime, and particularly the extremist Netanyahu government, against the Palestinian people, and to the repeated attacks against the Al-Aqsa Mosque. They said: 'Despite the war crimes carried out by the plundering Zionist regime against the oppressed people of Gaza, the Palestinian resistance groups are confronting the regime's aggression with force and they have the capabilities, motivation, and very high morale to continue on the path of resistance.'"
Left to right, in the center row: PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad Al-Nakhalah; Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian; Hamas Political Council deputy chief Salah Al-Arouri, and Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mujtaba Amani. Source: Mehr (Iran), October 13, 2023.
During the meeting, Abdollahian referred to "resistance as the unquestionable right of the Palestinian people against the occupation." Saying that "several elements in the West have acknowledged that Operation Al-Aqsa Flood proves that Palestine is alive and that contrary to some delusions, the Palestinian issue will not end with the normalization of relations between some countries and the Zionist regime," he added: "Iran will continue its efforts" to bring an end to the war crimes of the Zionist regime against the people of Gaza.
Hamas Representative In Tehran Khaled Qaddoumi: "The Normalization With The Zionist Regime Must Be Stopped, And The Path Of Resistance Must Be Strengthened"; "We Will Witness The Liberation Of The Dear Homeland Of The Palestinian People From The River To The Sea, As Well As The Destruction Of The Zionist Regime"
In an October 8, 2023 interview with the IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency, Hamas representative in Tehran Khaled Qaddoumi called for a halt to all talks for advancing normalization with Israel. He said:
"Yesterday [October 7], a strategic and historic event took place in the holy land of Palestine. Yesterday, the Islamic resistance of Palestine and [Hamas's] Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades announced that together, under the flag of Jerusalem, we will begin the Al-Aqsa Flood battle to liberate Palestine from the river to the sea, in order to expel the Zionist regime that is massacring children from this holy land.
"Jerusalem is the first qibla [direction of prayer] for the Muslims worldwide. The siege on the Palestinian people in Gaza, the [Israeli] security operations in the West Bank, the desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the desecration of the Christian holy sites, the policy of racial discrimination, and more are the actions being carried out by the Zionist regime against the oppressed Palestinian people, and the people can no longer bear them. Operation Al-Aqsa Flood began with the goal of liberating Palestine and honoring the Muslims and free men in Palestine. We emphasize that this battle has changed the equation of confrontation with the Zionist regime.
Hamas's representative in Tehran Khaled Qaddoumi. Source: Fars News Agency (Iran), October 8, 2023.
"Yesterday [October 7], elements in the Palestinian Islamic resistance front crossed the Gaza border, entered the Zionist settlements, made it to 25 strategic locations in these settlements, and raised the flag of honor and freedom.
"The Islamic nation awakened yesterday to support the Palestinian nation. The dear citizens of Iran have also arrived on the scene in the various cities to support the oppressed Palestinian people. This movement itself encourages the Palestinian people to become stronger on the path to liberating Jerusalem. We thank the people of Iran and the freedom-seekers in the world for the support of the oppressed Palestinian people, and we say to the governments that have sought to normalize relations with the Zionist regime that with that [normalization] operation, they are in fact stabbing Palestinian children in the back. Normalization with the Zionist regime must be stopped, and the path of resistance must be strengthened, and with God's help, we will witness the liberation of the dear homeland of the Palestinian people from the river to the sea, as well as the destruction of the Zionist regime."
Mahfouz Munawwar, PIJ Foreign Relations Chief In Beirut: The Hamas Attack's Goal – "To Support Al-Aqsa And Free The Prisoners"; "The Videos Recorded And Circulated By The Resistance During The Operations Show That The Occupying Regime Has Collapsed"; We Hope The Fighters' Spirit Will Ultimately Bring About The Liberation Of All The Occupied Territories
In an October 9 interview with the Iranian news agency ISNA, Mahfouz Munawwar, the PIJ foreign relations chief in Beirut, enumerated the goals of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. They included freeing the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and sending a warning to the Muslim countries that are pursuing normalization with Israel. He said:
"...The importance of this operation is not just that there was an attack or that we took over Israeli bases. [The aim is] to put an end to the issue of the [Palestinian] prisoners. This issue is sensitive and very important for the Palestinian people, and we hope for progress in this matter.
"This operation was launched, [first of all], in response to all the crimes Israel has perpetrated, on the human level and also against the holy places. In my opinion, Operation Al-Aqsa Flood was a success in this sense, and has achieved [its goal of] creating the necessary deterrence, so that if the [Israeli] regime wants to repeat such crimes in the future, it will think twice about the implications.
"The second goal, and the future achievement of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, is to free our prisoners. The number of Israeli prisoners held by the resistance is sufficient to free our prisoners from the jails of the occupying regime. [Thus,] we can already promise our [Palestinian] captives [in Israeli prisons] that they are about to be released, although it may take some time.
"The third goal and message of this operation is addressed to the countries that seek to normalize with the regime that is occupying Jerusalem [i.e. Israel]. Operation Al-Aqsa Flood sent the message that this regime and its army, which are not [even] able to defend themselves and their so-called citizens, will not be able to support and defend the regimes of other countries – and that [these regimes] should therefore return to the fold of their peoples. It is the people who can defend the Islamic countries and all the rights of the Muslims and the Arab nations – not Israel and not any other hegemonial regime [i.e. the U.S.].
"The circulation of the videos and photos [from the Hamas attack] is also part of the military action. The videos that were recorded and circulated by the resistance during the operations show that the occupation regime has collapsed. This operation started at 05:00 [sic] AM, and the enemy did not even notice it. Its first cabinet meeting was held [only] at 13:00, which shows that it was not even prepared for calling an emergency meeting.
"Indeed, not only did these videos and photos break the morale of the settlers [i.e. the Israelis], but they also weakened and shattered the morale of the soldiers, officers, and commanders of this regime's fragmented army. At the same time, the morale of the resistance fighters rose. They are carrying out their operations in high spirits, and we hope that this spirit will ultimately bring about the liberation of all the occupied territories from Zionist regime control.
"Our assessment in the current circumstances is that this operation, despite its small scale, has outlined great goals, from the political and the spiritual perspectives. As I noted in the beginning, the goal of this operation was to support Al-Aqsa and free the prisoners, who have been waiting too long for their freedom. We have spoken of this often, but the international bodies and courts, and the governments that purport [to champion human rights], have done nothing and will do nothing about this. Therefore, the practical way to address this involves the resistance and the capture of soldiers of the occupation regime.
"This operation has so far been a great achievement in this area. We are not talking about two or three prisoners – but about dozens and even hundreds, including high-ranking military officers. This means that Israel has no choice but to free our prisoners.
"Moreover, all the gear [and personnel] required for this operation, including the ground forces, the rocket [units] and the artillery [units], were on full alert, and each managed to achieve the desired goals in its own way with the equipment at its disposal. The operation continued to over 20 different locations in various communities. The resistance will continue to fight until it achieves its goals."
Mahfouz Munawwar, PIJ foreign relations chief in Beirut.