by By ZI-ANN LUM Politico
OTTAWA, Ont. — Israel’s ambassador-designate to Canada says he believes Iran was involved in the weekend’s deadly Hamas rampage on Israel.
“It’s clear that there is direct involvement in what is happening right now,” Iddo Moed told POLITICO on Tuesday.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the U.S. has yet to see evidence. French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters Tuesday that he’d seen “no formal trace” that Iran was directly involved. The Israel Defense Forces said Iran’s involvement can’t be ruled out despite the lack of proof.
Asked for evidence, Moed pointed to August meetings that took place in Beirut between the heads of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s Al-Quds Force, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Hamas.
“With the presence of the Iranian minister of foreign affairs, then you see there is a clear link,” he said.
Iran’s response to the surprise onslaught is another sign of Iran’s backing, he added. “The praise that they received from Tehran, from the highest leadership — from President [Ebrahim] Raisi and others — the cheers in the streets, all of that points to very clear support — material and moral support and political support — for Hamas and Palestinian organizations.”
More than 1,200 Israelis have been killed after Hamas launched surprise, coordinated attacks on Saturday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war against Hamas in response, and initiated a blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The escalation in violence has seen more than 900 people in Gaza killed from retaliatory airstrikes and shelling by Israel. The death toll is expected to climb.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced Wednesday that an airlift of Canadians will begin in the “coming days.” A Canadian Armed Forces aircraft is expected to arrive in Tel Aviv to transport people to Athens where a chartered Air Canada plane will bring people home.
“This includes dual nationals,” Joly said. “Because a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” She declined to confirm if Canadians are among those taken hostage.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday that the United States is looking for evidence.
“As I stand here today, while Iran plays this broad role — sustained, deep and dark role in providing all of this support and capabilities to Hamas — in terms of this particular gruesome attack on Oct. 7, we don’t currently have that information,” Sullivan told reporters.
Blinken is expected to travel to Israel on Thursday.
Moed, a cybersecurity expert who previously served as deputy head of Israel’s foreign ministry’s African affairs division, has been on the job for six weeks in Ottawa. The ambassador-designate has yet to present his credentials to Canada’s governor general, a technicality that bars him from making direct contact with politicians until after a formal ceremony.
Asked about Israel’s short-term needs from Ottawa, Moed said it needs political and moral support in the fight against terrorism, “specifically against Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
He added: “And, of course, looking at Iran as a player that is behind these attacks as a source for further escalation in the region.”