Tehran deflects Hamas SOS to threaten intervention against an Israeli attack

Hamas appealed to Tehran and Hizballah Thursday, Dec. 25, asking for Iran’s support by threatening to intervene if Israel launched an attack on the Gaza Strip, debkafile‘s Iranian sources report. Hamas’ Damascus-based politburo chief Khalad Meshaal phoned an official called Abolfazl at the Iranian embassy and asked urgently for a statement from Tehran that would daunt Israel from attacking. Using their special telephone line, Meshaal also reached Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut to demand a declaration of support for the people of Gaza, including a veiled threat to open a second front against Israel by launching a rocket attack from Lebanon.
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert meanwhile strongly urged Gazan Palestinians to stand up to Hamas and stop them shooting missiles to ward off an Israeli military operation. He addressed them over al Arabiya television.
In Cairo, foreign minister Tzipi Livni discussed the Gaza crisis with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and its foreign and intelligence ministers. She said the purpose of her trip was not to ask Egypt for permission to embark on military action in the Gaza Strip. This decision was solely Israel’s, she said.
In Tehran, Iran’s national security council convened soon after receiving the Hamas SOS. According to our sources, the forum decided not to reject it out of hand but to inform Meshaal that Iran was awaiting developments and closely following Israel’s military operation to see how it developed.
Iran then ordered Nasrallah to refrain from making public threats until Tehran decides on its response to the Hamas appeal. The Hizballah leader was allowed only to make emotional remarks about the Palestinians’ “suffering” and their “brave stand” against “Zionist aggression.”
Our sources note that the Iranian regime is thinking twice before undertaking military commitments to deter Israel. For one thing, they believe it would have the opposite effect and offer Israel vindication for a major campaign. This would cause Hamas more harm than good. For another, this posture could harm Iranian and Hizballah interests in the Arab arena.

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