Iran and Hamas: tag team terror partners

The AP is reporting this morning that a Hamas suicide bomber has struck in Tel Aviv, killing 8 and wounding 49 (as of this writing):

TEL AVIV, Israel – A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up outside a fast-food restaurant in a bustling commercial area of Tel Aviv during the Passover holiday Monday, killing eight other people and wounding at least 49, police said. Israeli Prime Minister-designate Ehud Olmert said Israel would respond “as necessary.”

“We shall, of course, continue to use all means at our disposal to prevent every other attempt,” he said.

Israeli defense chiefs were to consult later Monday, but security officials said a possible reoccupation of Gaza, the base of the new Hamas government, was not being considered.

The White House strongly condemned the attack, calling it “a despicable act of terror for which there is no excuse or justification.”

A security guard posted outside the restaurant, the target of a suicide bombing in January, prevented Monday’s bomber from entering the building, police said.

It was the first suicide attack in Israel since the Hamas militant group took over the Palestinian government 2 1/2 weeks ago. Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in attacks, has largely observed a cease-fire since February 2005.

The Islamic Jihad militant group, which is believed to be funded in part by Iran and refuses to observe a cease-fire, claimed responsibility in a telephone call to The Associated Press. The group identified the bomber as Sami Salim Mohammed Hammed, from the West Bank town of Jenin.

Well, the question as to whether or not Hamas is funded “in part” by Iran has been answered. Via the BBC:

Iran will donate $50m (£28m) to help fund the Palestinian Authority, after the withdrawal of aid from the West, the Iranian government has announced.

The US and EU cut funding after Hamas – which they consider a terrorist group – won Palestinian elections in January.

Iran’s pledge followed a visit from top Hamas official Khaled Meshaal, after the group appealed to Muslim nations to help make up the shortfall.

On Saturday Russia said it would also grant financial aid.

Mr Meshaal, at a fundraising event in the Iranian capital, Tehran, said the Palestinian administration was $1.7bn in debt.

He said a further $170m a month was needed to run the administration, out of which $115m went to paying salaries.

The EU gives about 500m euros ($600m) a year to the Palestinian Authority, but said last week that aid would be suspended.

Hamas has refused EU demands to recognise Israel and renounce violence.

The US Treasury this week further tightened the screws on Palestinian cash by banning American nationals from doing business with the Hamas-led authority.

‘Work with Hamas’

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran was determined to help the Palestinians.

“I am honoured to announce that Iran has donated $50m to help the Palestinian nation,” he said in a televised speech.

“We warn that if the aid is cut and if this continues in the near future, this land will witness a humanitarian disaster,” he added.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this aid has just now started flowing in. Iran has made no secret of its feelings for Israel many times over and as we all know Israel and Hamas’ history so I have little doubt that money has been flowing to Hamas via the Iranian government for decades – considering they both have a common enemy: Israel.

Hamas is also backing Iran in the continuing nuclear standoff between Iran and the West:

TEHRAN (AFP) – Palestinian militant leaders have rallied behind Iran, vowing to resist pressure to recognise Israel and supporting the Islamic republic in its stand-off with the West over its nuclear programme.

Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal vowed that the new Palestinian government will not recognise Israel, regardless of mounting international pressure on the militant group to do so — sticking with the tough position supported by Iran’s leadership.

“The pressure is aimed at making us change our political position, to recognise Israel and to give up the rights of the Palestinians. But Hamas will not give in to the pressure and will not recognise Israel,” he told state television.

Needless to say, recent delcarations by the Iranian president have left western leaders deeply concerned:

Of all the claims that Iran made last week about its nuclear program, a one-sentence assertion by its president has provoked such surprise and concern among international nuclear inspectors they are planning to confront Tehran about it this week.

The assertion involves Iran’s claim that even while it begins to enrich small amounts of uranium, it is pursuing a far more sophisticated way of making atomic fuel that American officials and inspectors say could speed Iran’s path to developing a nuclear weapon.

Iran has consistently maintained that it abandoned work on this advanced technology, called the P-2 centrifuge, three years ago. Western analysts long suspected that Iran had a second, secret program — based on the black market offerings of the renegade Pakistani nuclear engineer Abdul Qadeer Khan — separate from the activity at its main nuclear facility at Natanz. But they had no proof.

Then on Thursday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Tehran was “presently conducting research” on the P-2 centrifuge, boasting that it would quadruple Iran’s enrichment powers. The centrifuges are tall, thin machines that spin very fast to enrich, or concentrate, uranium’s rare component, uranium 235, which can fuel nuclear reactors or atom bombs.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statements, and those of other senior Iranian officials, are always viewed with suspicion by American and international nuclear experts, because Iran has, at various times, understated nuclear activities that were later discovered, and overstated its capabilities. Analysts and American intelligence officials, bruised by their experience in Iraq, say they are uncertain whether Mr. Ahmadinejad’s claim represents a real technical advance that could accelerate Iran’s nuclear agenda, or political rhetoric meant to convince the world of the unstoppability of its atomic program.

European diplomats said a delegation of Iranian officials is due to arrive on Tuesday in Vienna, where the International Atomic Energy Agency will press them to address the new enrichment claim, as well as other questions about Iran’s program, including a crude bomb design found in the country.

“This is a much better machine,” a European diplomat said of the advanced centrifuge, which was a centerpiece of Pakistan’s efforts to build its nuclear weapons and was found in 2004 in Libya, when that country gave up its nuclear program. The diplomat added that the Iranians, among other questions, will now have to explain whether Mr. Ahmadinejad was right, and if so, whether they recently restarted the abandoned program or have been pursuing it in secret for years.

If Iran moved beyond research and actually began running the machines, it could force American intelligence agencies to revise their estimates of how long it would take for Iran to build an atom bomb — an event they now put somewhere between 2010 and 2015.

Thanks (or would that be a “no thanks”?) to Sy Hersh, we know that the US is already taking active steps in an attempt to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Regarding the suicide bomber attack in Tel Aviv, Israel’s Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying:

Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert responded to the first terror attack of his short tenure by saying that, “We will know how to respond. We know what to do.”

Indeed. And they also know how to deal with Iran, too, should it be necessary.

On a related note, Iranian officials are claiming to have 40,000 suicide bombers ready to strike at US and British targets if their is a strike against their (Iran’s) nuclear sites:

IRAN has formed battalions of suicide bombers to strike at British and American targets if the nation’s nuclear sites are attacked. According to Iranian officials, 40,000 trained suicide bombers are ready for action.

The main force, named the Special Unit of Martyr Seekers in the Revolutionary Guards, was first seen last month when members marched in a military parade, dressed in olive-green uniforms with explosive packs around their waists and detonators held high.

Dr Hassan Abbasi, head of the Centre for Doctrinal Strategic Studies in the Revolutionary Guards, said in a speech that 29 western targets had been identified: “We are ready to attack American and British sensitive points if they attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.” He added that some of them were “quite close” to the Iranian border in Iraq.

In a tape recording heard by The Sunday Times, Abbasi warned the would-be martyrs to “pay close attention to wily England” and vowed that “Britain’s demise is on our agenda”.

At a recruiting station in Tehran recently, volunteers for the force had to show their birth certificates, give proof of their address and tick a box stating whether they would prefer to attack American targets in Iraq or Israeli targets.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned last Friday that Israel was heading towards “annihilation”. He was speaking at a Tehran conference on Palestinian rights aimed at promoting Iran as a new Middle Eastern superpower.

Iran and Hamas are both playing with fire here – literally – and if they keep it up, they’re going to get burned.

Very badly.

It goes without saying, of course, that it will happen without the help of the UN.

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if the NYTimes is still holding strong as to its position on condemning the US and Israel for their stances on Hamas? Not likely.

Read more commentary on this via Captain Ed, Michelle Malkin, Blog For All, Stop The ACLU, Meryl Yourish, In the Bullpen, Moderate Voice, James Joyner, Junkyard Blog

Related Toldjah So posts on Iran:

Related Toldjah So posts on Hamas:

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