Former Defense chief says to eradicate Hamas, Iran must be confronted ‘once and for all’

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper said to defeat the militant Palestinian group Hamas fully, Iran must be confronted “once and for all.”

“[T]o ultimately defeat Hamas, in the extent that we understand it [in] military terms, you have to prevent their ability to reconstitute their military forces,” Esper said in a Thursday interview on CBS.

“To do that, that means you have to deal with Iran once and for all,” Esper continued. “You have to cut off the supply of arms and money and other support. And that’s the bigger issue that we’re not facing.”

At the beginning of last month, U.S. deputy national security adviser Jonathan Finer said Iran was “broadly complicit” in the attack by Hamas that began its current war with Israel. He noted the U.S. rival’s efforts to train and provide Hamas with arms.

“In terms of broad complicity, we are very clear about a role for Iran,” Finer told CBS. “What we have not seen yet at this moment, although we are continuing to look at it very closely, is any sort of direct involvement in the immediate attacks.”

Esper’s comments came on the same day White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. is involved in “intense negotiations” to try to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas amid its conflict with Israel.

“We are in some intense negotiations; hopefully they’ll come out the right way and we’ll have good news to talk about with multiple hostages getting free,” he said. “But we don’t have a deal right now, and until we do, the less said the better.”

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