Iran Also to Blame for Hamas Attacks, Says Inside the Middle East Founder


The Weinberg Park Heights JCC recently hosted Israeli author, analyst and Inside the Middle East Founder Avi Melamed for the Insight Israel Forum event “The Briefing Room: Israel at War — A Pivotal Moment.” Speaking over Zoom from Israel, Melamed outlined some of the reasons behind Hamas’ initial attack on Israel, and what Israel is doing in retaliation.

Avi Melamed (David Stuck)

Melamed has a strong connection with Baltimore’s Jewish community, as he previously taught a class about Israel and its relations with other Middle Eastern countries at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in 2022. He is also a frequent collaborator with The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, where he hosted Personal Opinion Dialogue Seminars, or PODS, as part of its Insight Israel Forum.

It was important to hear about Israel, said Gary Olchansky, the co-chair of the Insight Israel Forum, at the start of the event. “Our community’s connection to Israel is an integral part of Jewish life and a cornerstone of The Associated,” he added.

Melamed explained that there are two key reasons for the development of Hamas and the Oct. 7 attack: the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah, and what Melamed referred to as “Iran’s hegemonic vision.”

Hamas and Fatah have fought over the rule of the Palestinian territories for many years, culminating in the former’s hostile takeover of the land after an armed conflict in 2007.

According to Foreign Policy magazine, the two parties primarily differ in their ideology and view towards Israel. Hamas follows an Islamist ideology and does not recognize Israel, while Fatah is more secular in nature and wants to create a Palestinian state based on the 1967 “Green Line” borders. Fatah also runs the Palestinian Authority, which works in cooperation with Israel.

“Hamas refuses any kind of compromise, concession or dialogue,” Melamed said.

Melamed said he believes that Iran holds some responsibility for the Oct. 7 attack. He explained that Iran has been planning offensive measures against Israel for a long time, building military infrastructure called arenas around Israel to be activated all at once.

“In the Iranian vision, the ultimate task of this ring of fire is to create critical military mass around Israel’s neck,” Melamed said. “According to the Iranian master plan, when the day comes, these arenas will be simultaneously activated to attack Israel, to eliminate Israel.”

He noted that there are still many people in Iran and Gaza who oppose Hamas’ recent attacks, as they are “an act of suicide,” Melamed said. He emphasized the large number of innocent people in Gaza who have been injured and killed because of their actions.

“Hamas was forcefully trying to stop Gazans from fleeing. Why? Because Hamas wants to use them as human shields. Hamas wants to see Gazans killed, civilians killed, kids killed,” Melamed said. “And this is what Hamas wants, because they know they can play the card of it being collateral damage.”

Melamed described Israel’s goals as being focused on the elimination of Hamas in Gaza by destroying their military capabilities. He cited a statement made by Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, who said that Israel “will change reality on the ground in Gaza for the next 50 years.”

He also noted that the United States’ support of Israel may deter Iran and Hezbollah from getting further involved in the conflict. Many U.S. officials have expressed their support for Israel, and the U.S. was the sole country to veto the United Nations’ vote for a ceasefire in the area, according to Reuters.

“We are heading towards an intensive, brutal war. It’s going to be long; it’s going to be painful,” Melamed said. “But eliminating Hamas … is the only way to allow Israelis and Palestinians to have a chance at a hopeful future.”

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