TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran has supplied Hamas in Gaza with the technology to “quickly” produce longer-range missiles on their own without needing direct shipments, said a report Wednesday that quoted the head of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard.
The comments by Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari offer some of the clearest insights on Iran’s weapons support for Hamas, whose Iranian-engineered Fajr-5 missiles have struck near Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during weeklong battles with Israel.
“Gaza is under siege, so we cannot help them. The Fajr-5 missiles have not been shipped from Iran. Its technology has been transferred and (the missiles are) being produced quickly,” Jafari was quoted as saying by the semiofficial ISNA news agency.
Iran has repeatedly denied it directly supplied Hamas with the Fajr-5. The ISNA report gave no further details on the level of missile know-how sent to Gaza or the channels used.
Israel charges that Iran sends weapons, including rockets, to Gaza through a network of smuggling tunnels under the 15-kilometer (9-mile) border between Gaza and Egypt.
Iran also backs the anti-Israel faction Hezbollah in Lebanon, which fired thousands of rockets into Israel during a monthlong 2006 war.
Iran’s parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, meanwhile, said his country was “honored” that Iran could help Palestinians with “material and military aspects.” He did not elaborate.
He criticized Arab countries for failing to help arm Hamas and other Palestinian group. “The Palestinian nation does not need speeches and meetings. Arab countries should send military aid,” he was quoted as saying by the semiofficial Fars news agency.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei also chided other Muslim nations for not rallying behind Gaza in the latest showdown with Israel.
“Some of them sufficed with words, and some others did not condemn” Israel, Khamenei said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Gaza over the past week in an operation it says is meant to stop daily rocket salvos by Gaza militants at Israel.
Iran and Israel are bitter enemies, and the two nations are locked in a deepening dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. The West and others fear Iran could eventually produce nuclear weapons, and Israel has left open the option of staging a military strike at its nuclear facilities.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes such as power generation and cancer treatment.
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