While the total destruction of Hamas is understandably Israel's main priority in the aftermath of the organisation's horrific massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7, ultimately it should be Iran that is held to account for committing these atrocities.
Iran's complicity in Hamas's merciless assault against Israeli civilians cannot be underestimated; it has been reflected in the way the Iranian leadership has openly celebrated the indiscriminate slaughter of elderly women and babies as well as multiplying credible reports, including an almost comical one from Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, "Call[ing] On Iranians Not To Speak Out On Iranian Involvement In 'The Hamas-Israel Conflict' -- For Fear Of Harming Iranian Interests And International Status".
The Biden administration seems to be doing everything it can to avoid seeing direct involvement by Iran.
The precise details of Iran's direct role in authorising the attack are gradually coming to light, with officials involved in the investigation insisting that both Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah (a terrorist organization Iran controls) were involved in the planning of the Hamas terrorist operation.
This is hardly surprising given the estimated $100 million a year Tehran gives Hamas to help develop its terrorist infrastructure, part of the £13.1 billion Iran has spent on developing its terrorist network throughout the Middle East during the past decade, from supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen to Shia militias in Iraq.
Iran's ability, moreover, to continue funding terror groups across the Middle East has been aided by the Biden administration's decision to release $6 billion in Iranian assets as part of a recent hostage swap deal, on top of the "closer to $60 billion" Iran was able to acquire while the Biden administration "relaxed" sanctions for years.
Iran's support for Hamas has also been especially helpful in enabling the terrorist organisation to develop its own indigenous weapons, such as the thousands of missiles that have been used to attack targets throughout southern and central Israel.
The true extent of Iran's military support for Hamas was recently laid bare by the movement's leader, Ismail Haniyeh, when he revealed that funds received from Tehran had helped to fund the development of missile and defence systems designed and built in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
In a recent message addressed to Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in the summer, Haniyeh praised Iran as "a solid pillar upon which Palestinian resistance groups, and the Axis of Resistance in general, rest as they continue their primary struggle against the Zionist enemy and US hegemony."
The significance of Iran's involvement with Hamas's terrorist activity was also evident at the weekend, when Haniyeh met with Iran's foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in Qatar, a country that also has a long history of funding Hamas. According to Reuters:
"During their meeting in Qatar's capital Doha, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian praised the rampage as a 'historic victory' that had dealt a setback to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory."
A statement later issued by Hamas said the two leaders "greed to continue cooperation" to achieve the terror group's goals.
Iran has certainly been quick to celebrate the terrorist atrocities committed by Hamas. Immediately after news of the attack emerged, Iran's foreign ministry declared that the attack was an act of self-defence by the Palestinians.
According to Iranian state media, ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said:
"This operation ... is the spontaneous movement of resistance groups and Palestine's oppressed people in defence of their inalienable rights and their natural reaction to the Zionists' warmongering and provocative policies."
There were also jubilant scenes in Iran's Majlis (parliament), with members of parliament rising from their seats on Saturday to chant "Death to Israel" and "Palestine is victorious, Israel will be destroyed".
Iran's open support for the massacres has inevitably raised fears that the regime could be tempted to respond militarily when Israeli forces launch their ground operation to destroy Hamas's terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.
Visiting Lebanon after his meeting with Haniyeh, Iran's foreign minister warned that the conflict might expand to other parts of the Middle East if Hezbollah joins the battle, and that would make Israel suffer "a huge earthquake."
Concerns that Iran could provoke a major escalation in the conflict by encouraging Hezbollah to open a new front against northern Israel has already seen a rise in tensions, with sporadic clashes reported between Hezbollah and the Israeli military on the Israel-Lebanon border.
Israeli warplanes have also been in action bombing airports in Syria, which are used by Iran to transfer weapons and supplies to the network of military bases it has constructed in southern Syria.
Washington's decision to deploy two US Navy carrier battle groups, headed by the USS Gerald R Ford, the world's largest aircraft carrier, to the eastern Mediterranean was taken as much to deter any further attempt by Tehran to escalate the crisis as to demonstrate American support for Israel.
The extent of Iran's meddling in the current war in the Middle East should certainly serve as a wake-up call to the US and its European allies about the danger Iran poses not just to the region, but the wider world.
The timing of the attack, after all, came at a time when the Biden administration was involved in delicate negotiations with Riyadh for Saudi Arabia to normalise relations with Israel in return for US security guarantees, a move that would have added further to Iran's international isolation.
With the Saudi negotiations now on hold, the US and its allies should accept the folly of trying to maintain a diplomatic dialogue with Tehran in the hope that the Iranian regime may be persuaded to sign up to a new nuclear deal.
As Iran's open support for Hamas has demonstrated, the ayatollahs have no interest in reaching a peaceful accommodation with the West. Rather, they have been working for years to encircle Israel with their proxies -- Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south -- with the intent of obliterating it. Iran has not only been advancing its nuclear program; on Wednesday, the ban on Iranian missiles expires. Iran will be able to send missiles into Gulf countries in the Middle East, as well as to Russia to launch into Ukraine.
The Iranian regime is only concerned with supporting groups that carry out unimaginable acts of violence against innocent civilians, and should be treated with serious deterrence, if not more, and with the enemy status they fully deserve.
Con Coughlin is the Telegraph's Defence and Foreign Affairs Editor and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.