Hamas backs Iran after retaliatory missile, drone attacks on Israel

Hamas affirms ‘natural right’ of countries in the Middle East to defend themselves ‘in the face of Zionist aggressions’.

a protest at night with palestinian flags
Iranian demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags attend an anti-Israeli gathering in front of the British embassy in Tehran [Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency via Reuters]

The Palestinian Hamas group has expressed support for Iran after it launched hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel in retaliation for a deadly assault on its consulate in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

In a statement on Saturday, Hamas, which governs the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, said it affirmed “the natural right” of countries and peoples in the Middle East to defend themselves “in the face of Zionist aggressions”.

“The military operation carried out by Iran against the Zionist entity is a natural right and a due response to the crime of targeting the consulate in Damascus,” it said.

The Iranian salvo, fired late on Saturday night, consisted of more than 300 cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones, according to the Israeli military. Some 99 percent of the projectiles were intercepted, an Israeli spokesman said, with help from France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said it launched the drones and missiles under Operation True Promise as part of the punishment for “the Zionist entity’s crime of targeting the Iranian consulate in Syria” on April 1.

The raid in Damascus killed 13 people, including two senior generals in the IRGC’s elite Quds Force.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations said it now deemed the matter “concluded” and warned Israel of a “considerably more severe” response should the “Israeli regime make another mistake”.

It also warned the US to stay out of the conflict.

Mohammad Bagheri, Iran’s joint chief of staff, was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency that Tehran has warned Washington its bases will be targeted if it backed an Israeli response.

Iran conveyed a message through the Swiss embassy that if the US participated “in further aggressive Zionist moves through its bases or military assets across the region, and this is proven to us, its bases and assets and personnel in the region will have no security”, he said.

The escalation comes six months into Israel’s latest war on Gaza, which began after Hamas’s unprecedented attacks in southern Israel on October 7. The brutal Israeli assault has killed at least 33,686 Palestinians and wounded 76,309 others in Gaza.

The bloodshed has driven up tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire at Israeli targets from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.

A number of countries in the West condemned Iran’s attack, with the UK saying it was working to stabilise the situation and France criticising Tehran for risking a “military escalation”. Egypt and Saudi Arabia called for restraint, while the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation”.

The UN Security Council scheduled an emergency session to discuss the attacks at Israel’s request.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies