Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement launched an incursion into Israel on October 7, attacking by air and ground. While the range of weapons they’ve employed has garnered international attention, none of these armaments comes as a revelation. Both Hamas’s armed wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, and Islamic Jihad’s Al Quds Brigades have previously showcased these weapons in propaganda materials and military parades as well as using them against Israeli targets. The majority of these weapons have origins in Iran, and those produced within Gaza are also believed to have been developed by the Islamic Republic, with a small fraction originating from North Korea and Syria.
A surprise ground assault by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza on Israel has so far killed more than 900 Israelis and left hundreds more injured or missing. Concerts, cities, communities, infrastructure and military garrisons have come under an unprecedented attack.
It is no secret that most of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad bunkers are filled with weapons of Iranian origin. Iranian officials, including political and military figures, have repeatedly confirmed that they provide economic and logistical support to Hamas. The Palestinian groups have also confirmed this, and publicly praised the mullahs in Tehran for their support.
FRANCE 24 journalist and terrorism expert Wassim Nasr told us more:
In all these videos, I don’t see any new weapons or any new technology that they are using. We have already seen all these weapons in previous attacks on Israeli targets or in the videos they publish of their training.
Some of these weapons were smuggled into Gaza through the tunnels. Gaza has been under siege for years and the weapons are smuggled along with many other things, from food to household appliances.
The other part of these Iranian-inspired weapons is manufactured inside Gaza with the support of Iran, which provides its blueprints and technical assistance from outside.
In May 2021, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, leader of Islamic Jihad, said in an interview: “It was Qasem Soleimani (Editor’s note: the former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) who brought the idea of producing missiles inside Gaza by teaching our engineering ranks. All of Islamic Jihad and Hamas engineers are trained by Iran.”
Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas, also confirmed in a public speech in May 2019 that the group’s missiles come from Iran.
“Let me be clear. If it wasn’t for Iran, our resistance would not exist, we would not have these capabilities,” he said. “Our people (Arab governments) have abandoned us in the hard times, though Iran helped us with weapons, logistics, trainings, and technical support.”
The FRANCE 24 Observers team verified a number of videos posted by citizens or the official accounts of military groups in Gaza on social networks to verify the origin of the weapons used against Israel.
Mortars, rockets and mines
We can see Iranian-made mortars being fired in this video released by Hamas. In this video, it is claimed that the mortar – a 120-millimetre “M48” mortar from Iran – was fired at Israel from Gaza on October 7, 2023.
The Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, have already featured these Iranian-made mortars in their propaganda videos. In a video released by Hamas in May 2020, we see exactly the same type of mortar, which was manufactured in Iran in 2007.
These pictures released by Israel reportedly show the aftermath of a raid on a group of Hamas commandos who entered Israel on 7 October and were killed.
The pictures show weapons that were allegedly found in the trucks of the Hamas commandos. In these pictures, we see at least two types of Iranian-made weapons.
Older Hamas videos show that the group has been equipped with this kind of rocket for about a decade.
The Al Quds Brigade, the military arm of Islamic Jihad, also participated in last Saturday’s attacks. In a video they posted on their social media purporting to show an attack on an Israeli target on October 7, we see them using another Iranian anti-tank rocket.
It is an Iranian-made Ra’d-T, the Iranian version of the 9M14 Malyutka, an anti-tank guided missile developed in the Soviet Union.
Another Iranian-made rocket found in these attacks is the “Misagh” MANPADS. We can see the wreckage of a MANPADS in a video published by Israel after an ambush on Hamas commandos.
In this wave of attacks by Hamas insurgents, thousands of rockets were fired at several cities, including the capital Tel Aviv. Hamas and other military groups in Gaza have been using this strategy against the Israelis for years.
Military groups in Gaza have received several types of Iranian short-range rockets over the decades, including Fajr-3, Fajr-5 and Zelzal.
According to some videos Hamas and Islamic Jihad shared during the recent attacks on Israel, the armed groups are using surveillance or suicide drones in their assaults.
While Hamas has named this drone “Shahab”, it’s a copy of “Ababil-2”, an Iranian-made drone used by many Iranian proxies in the Middle East, albeit under a different name. The Houthis in Yemen, for example, call it Qasef-2K.
The Ababil-2 is an old model of Iranian loitering munitions from 15 years ago. Iran now has more advanced models such as the Shahed 131 and 136, which have received international attention due to Russia’s use of them in the war in Ukraine.
Once again, the use of this drone in the fight against Israeli targets is not new. The Al Qassam forces have already shown that they have this drone, and they have even used it to attack targets on Israeli territory.
In May 2021, Hamas attacked a chemical factory near Nir Oz in Israel using this drone.
The Al Quds Brigade also released a video showing the use of a drone against Israeli targets. The Palestinian group calls it “Kamikaz Sayyad”. It is a small Iranian loitering munition whose original name in Iran is simply Sayyad or “ShahedX”; the Houthis, the other users of these suicide drones, call it “Samad-1”.
Islamic Jihad has long been known to have this kind of Iranian drone at its disposal. The Al Quds Brigade showcased it in a military parade on October 4.
Rifles and machine guns
Various Palestinian factions in Gaza have been known to use Iranian rifles. These firearms may either originate from other nations and be supplied by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or they could be directly sourced as Iranian-made weapons.
The Iranian-made anti-materiel rifle, Sayyad, is one of them.
Hamas insurgents were seen with Iranian anti-materiel Sayyad rifles in military parades in January 2019 and 2020.
Some Iranian copies of Chinese machine guns have also been found in the south of Israel following the October 7 attacks.
One of the methods used by Palestinian military groups to invade Israeli territory was the use of powered paragliders as aircraft for military purposes.
Although it seems to be an original idea, the “Saberin”, the elite troops of the Iranian IRGC, have previously used them as short-range light aircraft.
‘We support Palestinians […] but this was the work of the Palestinians themselves’
Iranian political and military officials have consistently voiced their backing for militant groups in Gaza. Notably, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, has affirmed this support on multiple occasions, including during meetings with leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
“The Palestinians must feel that they have improved, and this has happened by providing them with accurate missiles instead of throwing stones [at Israelis],” Khamenei said in a meeting with Hamas leaders in Tehran on July 22, 2019.
But on October 10, Ayatollah Khamenei, while endorsing and commending the recent attacks, disclaimed any involvement of the Iranian regime in orchestrating them.
“In the last couple of days, some officials of the [Israeli] regime and their supporters claim that Iran is behind these attacks,” he said. “They are mistaken. We support Palestinians […] but this was the work of the Palestinians themselves.”
‘The only thing that is new is the coordination’
Wassim Nasr says that the weapons and tactics seen in the October 7 attacks are not new.
The only thing that is new is the coordination and planning. They organised attacks on more than 30 observation posts on the wall between the Gaza Strip and Israeli territory and on 11 military posts at the same time, with the attacks being coordinated by different independent military groups.
But what they have done against these military observation posts is nothing extraordinary: they used civilian drones dropping small bombs, which we have seen for years in Syria, first used by the Islamic State group, or in Ukraine and in many other conflicts as well.
It seems that Hamas has been organising this attack since at least May last year. In May 2023, Islamic Jihad organised an attack on Israel and surprisingly Hamas did not take part in it, showing that it did not want to escalate the situation until it was ready for the “big surprise”.
The only thing we know for sure is that Iran has been supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad for decades, with money, weapons, training, and technical support. It’s their common method for supporting their proxies as they did exactly the same thing with the Houthis in Yemen, as well as with multiple militias in Iraq or with Hezbollah in Lebanon since 1982. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have the exception of being Sunni and not Shia factions. Are these attacks ordered by Iran? I don’t know, I think no one knows.