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Rep. Mike Rogers: Gaza conflict "intertwined" with Iran nuclear talks

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., warned that the extension of nuclear talks with Iran, which freed up $2.8 billion in frozen oil export revenues for Tehran, means that more money will be funneled to militants in the Gaza strip even as the U.S. works to conclude a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Rogers, in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, said Iranian funds help supply Hamas with weapons.

"That's what's so frustrating with the administration," he said "All of this works together. You can't just pick and choose one particular region; it has to work in concert. So when you free up $2.8 billion for Iran, when they're already cash strapped because of sanctions, that means they can continue to do bad activities in the Gaza Strip, including we believe at least missile components."

He said that Qatar, which acts as a U.S. ally on other issues, are also funneling money to Hamas, as are some sources inside of Saudi Arabia. And, Rogers added, the militant group also takes legitimate foreign aid dollars coming into the region to put toward building tunnels into Israel that the Israeli government is working to destroy.

"Think about how obscene that is, the hundreds of millions of dollars they've had over a decade. Twenty percent of the people in Gaza Strip aren't connected to a water source. Ninety percent of all the water there doesn't meet international standards. But they've got, I think the Israelis disclosed, 35 tunnels. So they're diverting legitimate money. And you have Iran that is aligned into this particular interest in a way that's very, very dangerous," he said.

In an earlier interview on "Face the Nation," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the army had discovered a "vast underground terror kingdom" meant to give Hamas a way to carry out attacks in Israel. He promised Israel would not stop trying to destroy the tunnels, although he did not specify whether there would be an expansion of the current ground invasion.

But Rogers warned that the combination of Iranian and Qatari support for Hamas and for certain factions in Syria is "intertwined in a way that makes it a very dangerous stew indeed."

Even though the two countries have population majorities that hail different sects of Islam - Iran is mostly Shia and Qatar is mostly Sunni - Rogers said that the one thing they have in common is a dislike of Israel as a Jewish state.

He also warned of other nation states engaging in cyber conflict "that could cause this to escalate in a way that's very, very dangerous for stability."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for