When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Hamas Is Fighting A Proxy War For Iran — That's Where The West Should Strike Back

Will the West stop coddling the Iranian regime now, or continue its mix of appeasement and a cat-and-mouse game that Tehran has deftly exploited to undermine peace in the Middle East?

Photograph of a Hamas soldier during a military exhibition in Gaza

June 30, 2023, Gaza, Palestine: Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza, a military exhibition on behalf of the image and memorial.

Saher Elghorra/ZUMA
Hanif Heidarnejad


The terrorist assault on Israel by Hamas and its collaborators, and its suddenness, have Iranian fingerprints all over them. The pictures that have emerged, and those spread online by the assailants, reveal that this was more a full-blown declaration of war than a simple military operation.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

The Iranian regime has asked the other forces of the "resistance" to Israel — the regional militias that are mostly beholden to Tehran — to actively back Hamas. The attack coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, which anti-Israeli forces still consider a victory against the Jewish state, and was anything but spontaneous.

This massive assault that killed more than 1,200 Israelis, required planning and organization and could not have happened without the support of the Iranian regime, and specifically the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Iranian motives

Iran is clearly upset by the prospects of Saudi Arabia establishing diplomatic ties with the state of Israel. In recent years, as the regime in Tehran sank into isolation, Israel has worked to forge formal ties with Arab states, aided by diplomatic initiatives like the Abraham Accords.

Rapprochement of Israel and the Arab world constitutes an unqualified ideological defeat for Iran.

This trend toward a rapprochement of Israel and the Arab world constitutes an unqualified ideological defeat for Iran. So, it set to work to make sure there would be no normalization with the most important Arab government, the Saudi monarchy.

That is the chief motivation behind the Hamas assault, and the immediate declarations of approval made by Iranian officials indicate Iran is behind this attack. Though top officials in Tehran denied direct involvement, an adviser to the Iranian supreme leader, Yahya Rahim-Safavi, called the assault a source of pride, while the Islamic Propaganda Organization (Sazman-e tabliqat-e eslami) said "We shall celebrate Palestine's victory over Israel."

Photograph of the Iranian supreme leader walking with generals as they review rows of armed forces cadets during their graduation ceremony.

October 10, 2023, Tehran, Iran: Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah AliI Khamenei reviews a group of armed forces cadets during their graduation ceremony.

Iranian Supreme Leader'S Office/ZUMA

Hostage tactics

The pictures of the assault shared online were meant to convey victory. Anti-Israeli forces in the region needed to see bloodied corpses and Israelis being taken hostage to overcome a sense of impotence or weakness before Israel.

Such images can have a far greater impact on opinion than a tactical victory or a successful military operation.

In practical terms, taking hostages allows one to negotiate and extort money. When the terrorist forces see that the United States is willing to pay billions of dollars to free a handful of prisoners held in Tehran, they conclude that clearly, the same could work with Israel.

Sudden attacks, taking prisoners and haggling for ransom — these were among the tactics of the early Arab Muslims, which Islamic Iran has used in past years to impose its will on regional states. It's about hitting two birds with one stone: cashing in and sowing terror!

Do it a few times, and you'll have money to finance more bullying and intimidation. With Iran's revolutionary regime, it began with storming the U.S. embassy in 1979 and taking staff hostage, and continued with hostage-taking in Beirut, Lebanon, as well as attacking ships in the Persian Gulf and more recently, arresting dual-nationals inside Iran.

Has the West learned its lesson?

Clearly, Israel will need time to get a grip on the situation next door in Gaza, overcome the trauma of the initial assault and organize its forces.

The international community is being tested again.

After that, Hamas and co. will likely say — with mediation from states like Turkey and Egypt — that they are willing to negotiate. They've done it for a good many years! And if they can pull it off another time, expect a similar scenario at some point in the future.

The Israelis might even face a veritable calamity the next time around. So you must strike at the source: which is in Tehran (the 'capital of terror,' as the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin called it). There will be no peace in the region and beyond while the cash-flushed headquarters remain at work to snuff the seeds of peace in the Middle East.

The international community is being tested again, and must not keep encouraging extortion and intimidation through the dismal policy called appeasement. Thursday's announcement that the U.S. would halt a prisoner exchange deal to unblock $6 billion in Iranian assets is just one small step.

The lesson in all this is this: the source of the mischief is in Tehran.

Has the West, in particular, learned its lessons in dealing with the Islamic Republic, and understood that it must deprive it of the arms and funds needed to enact its vile plans and proxy wars? I doubt it.

The West, I fear, may well leave the Israelis no choice but to strike at the Revolutionary guards its own way, dragging Western states into a war Iran's regime began years ago.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Putin's "Pig-Like" Latvia Threat Is A Chilling Reminder Of What's At Stake In Ukraine

In the Ukraine war, Russia's military spending is as high as ever. Now the West is alarmed because the Kremlin leader is indirectly hinting at a possible attack on Latvia, a NATO member. It is a reminder of a growing danger to Europe.

Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Pavel Lokshin


BERLIN — Russian President Vladimir Putin sometimes chooses downright bizarre occasions to launch his threats against the West. It was at Monday's meeting of the Russian Human Rights Council, where Putin expressed a new, deep concern. It was not of course about the human rights of the thousands of political prisoners in his own country, but about the Russian population living in neighboring Latvia, which happens to be a NATO member, having to take language tests.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest