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Initial U.S. intelligence assessments suggest that top Iranian officials were taken by surprise when Hamas launched its deadly attacks on Israel, according to multiple reports.

Terrorists killed at least 1200 people when they fanned out from the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning, attacking military and civilian targets.

The assault shocked Israel and its security services, which failed to anticipate the danger.

Questions have circulated ever since about whether Iran, Hamas’ biggest sponsor, helped with planning or financing the attacks. 

But intelligence that Iranian leaders were taken by surprise casts doubt on the idea that Tehran was directly involved. 

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (center), reviews a group of armed forces cadets during their graduation ceremony in Tehran on Tuesday. He used the occasion to deny Iran had any involvement in the Gaza attack on Israel

National security officials such as spokesman John Kirby, left, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan say they have not yet seen intelligence that Iran was behind the Hamas attack

A source told Reuters that Iranian leaders would ordinarily be aware of such a significant operation.

‘We will be looking at additional intelligence in the coming weeks to inform our thinking on this issue, including whether there were at least some within their system that either had a clearer sense of what was coming or even contributed to aspects of the planning,’ the official said.

The U.S. monitors meetings between Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force and its proxies, such as Hamas. 

But the New York Times reported that officials said there was no evidence found yet to suggest those meetings were used to plan or approve the Hamas attack.

The Israeli military said Wednesday that more than 2700 people were wounded in the hours-long attack, after hundreds of fighters bulldozed through security fences or used paragliders to evade defenses.

Hamas also used drones to knock out remote sensors and machine guns, negating Israeli surveillance and countermeasure systems.

That level of sophistication has led to questions about how much outside help was given to the Gaza-based militants.

In their public statements, national security officials have accused Iran of being ‘complicit’ in the attack, supporting Hamas with arms and cash in their fight against Israel, without saying they were directly involved in planning, funding or training fighters for Saturday’s attack.

The covered bodies of Israeli victims of the weekend’s infiltration by Palestinian militants are gathered at kibbutz Beeri near the border with Gaza on October 11, 2023

Palestinian militants fire rockets towards Israel from Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on October 11, 2023 while Israel kept up its own bombardment of Hamas targets in the enclave

‘We’ve been looking at it,’ White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday afternoon. ‘Again we have not seen any evidence… specific evidence that Iran was directly involved in these specific attacks.

‘We are going to keep looking at it. The book is not closed on it. We’re going to keep looking.’

A day earlier National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan delivered a similar message in the White House briefing room. 

‘We have said since the beginning that Iran is complicit in this attack in a broad sense because they have provided the lion’s share of the funding for the military wing of Hamas, they have provided training, they have provided capabilities, they have provided support, and they have had engagement and contact with Hamas over years and years,’ he said. 

‘And all of that has played a role in contributing to what we have seen.

‘Now, as to the question of whether Iran knew about this attack in advance or helped plan or direct this attack, we do not — as of the moment I’m standing here at the podium — have confirmation of that.’

Iran has denied any role.

The country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday celebrated what he called Israel’s ‘irreparable’ military and intelligence defeat.

‘We kiss the hands of those who planned the attack on the Zionist regime,’ he said in his first televised speech since the deadly assault.

In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of Israeli soldiers are massing with military hardware around the 141-square Gaza Strip, which has been pounded for days by airstrikes. 

‘We started the offensive from the air, later on we will also come from the ground,’ Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has told soldiers. 

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