When Islamist group Hamas launched a spectacular attack against Israel, it also took aim at efforts to forge new regional security alignments that could threaten Palestinian aspirations for statehood and the ambitions of the group's main backer Iran.

Saturday's assault, the biggest incursion into Israel in decades, coincides with U.S.-backed moves to push Saudi Arabia toward normalizing ties with Israel in return for a defense deal between Washington and Riyadh, a move that would slam the brakes on the kingdom's recent rapprochement with Tehran.

Palestinian officials and a regional source said the gunmen who stormed Israeli towns, killing 250 Israelis and taking hostages, were also delivering a message that the Palestinians could not be ignored if Israel wanted security and that any Saudi deal would scupper the detente with Iran.