October 9, 2023 | New York Post

What the US and Israel need to do next in face of Iran terror

October 9, 2023 | New York Post

What the US and Israel need to do next in face of Iran terror

Americans watched in shock and disbelief this weekend as horrific videos spread across social media documenting the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

But as shock turns to anger, the White House and Congress are searching for ways to respond.

They can start by imposing a maximum-pressure campaign on the terror axis of evil that carried out this pogrom while providing maximum support to Israel’s efforts to destroy it.

Given the complexity of the Hamas terror invasion of Israel — by land, air, and sea — using improvised platforms from armed paragliders to mortar dropping drones — there is little doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran had a hand in this massacre.

That Iran provides the Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups with money, weapons and training is well documented. As is the intelligence fusion cell Iran established in Beirut in 2021 to coordinate Tehran’s war on Israel. Indeed, Hamas and Hezbollah sources boasted about Iran’s direct involvement, as if there were any doubt.

While Israel continues to secure its border with Gaza and clear the country of Hamas infiltrators, Iran is moving quickly to open a second front against Israel — with rocket attacks against northern Israel and terrorists coming across the border Monday from Lebanon.

The Jewish state is confronting an Islamic Republic more emboldened than ever — enabled in large part by US appeasement policies.

As a result, more than 1,000 people are dead — including at least 11 Americans — and more than 150 have been taken hostage.

Since June, the Biden administration has provided at least $50 billion in sanctions relief to Iran — including $10 billion made available from Iraq, $6 billion from South Korea, potentially $6.7 billion from the International Monetary Fund and a halt to oil-sanctions enforcement providing Tehran more than $25 billion in annualized oil revenue. The White House was hoping to buy a short-term delay on Tehran producing weapons-grade uranium.

But in doing so, it green-lighted Iran’s terror machine to focus its resources, time and energy on attacking Israel — and, more importantly, keeping Israel distracted from stopping the regime’s drive toward nuclear weapons.

To turn the tables on Iran and its terrorist proxies, Washington needs to first confront reality. The regime in Iran today has more American blood on its hands — and more American hostages, too.

President Biden’s strategic framework must quickly shift from threat appeasement to threat elimination. That starts with cutting off the financial oxygen that allows this terror octopus to breathe — from the tentacles in Gaza and Lebanon to the head in Tehran.

The $16 billion transferred this summer to bank accounts in Oman and Qatar for Iran’s use should be re-frozen. US sanctions on Iranian oil exports should be enforced.

American and United Nations aid that flows into Gaza and subsidizes the Hamas regime should be suspended. Turkey and Qatar, where Hamas keeps offices and officials, should face threats of sanctions if they do not cut ties.

Washington should lean on European allies to do more, too. The United Kingdom should proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. Europe should trigger the snapback of UN sanctions on Iran before the international missile embargo on Iran expires next week.

Israel also needs time and space to prepare and execute its military response — and then confidence in sustained US support in the weeks and possibly months ahead.

That could include special-operations missions, an unprecedented ground invasion to eliminate Hamas leadership and capabilities and multiple contingencies to retaliate against targets in Lebanon and Syria should Hezbollah enter the fight.

A massive reserve mobilization is underway to ready operations on both fronts. Reports that the Biden administration is working with Turkey and Qatar to broker a premature ceasefire or hostage negotiation undermine Israel’s military posture. No one should be pressuring Israel to back down in the wake of this massacre.

To its credit, the administration is sending a US carrier strike group to provide additional military deterrence — an effort to deter ballistic missile attacks from Syria or Iran. It’s also signaling a willingness to provide Israel with a long list of military resupply requests to sustain a weeks-long conflict with Iran’s proxies in Gaza and potentially Lebanon.

But as this war drags on, that support will be tested. Hamas’ war crimes aren’t restricted to the rape, mass murder and hostage-taking of Israeli civilians. It also uses Palestinians as human shields when Israel’s military responds — much as Hezbollah does in Lebanon.

Iran hopes this tactic will turn world sympathy to condemnation. But the White House and Congress should assign the blame for every Palestinian death to Iran and its terror proxies, not the Jewish state acting to preserve its existence.

Washington’s support for dead Jews is nice, but it’s not going to destroy the terror axis that carried out this massacre.

The question now is whether the White House or Congress will support the living Jews who fight to keep on living — alongside the many Muslims, Druze and Christians seeking a peaceful life without the daily threat of Iran-sponsored terror.

Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is the former National Security Council director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction and a former US Senate aide who architected US sanctions against Iran and spearheaded the expansion of US-Israel missile-defense cooperation.


Gulf States Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Jihadism Lebanon Palestinian Politics Sanctions and Illicit Finance