Iran has urged Hamas to join Islamic Jihad in a new round of attacks against Israel following the killing of three militants in Gaza, Iran International has learned.
According to informed sources, Tehran exerted strong pressure on Hamas to respond to assistance it has received over the years and unite with Islamic Jihad, a close affiliate of the Iranian regime, to launch a fresh wave of attacks.
In a surprise air strike early Tuesday, Israel killed three Islamic Jihad commanders in Gaza, who had planned attacks from Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
A large number of rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel Wednesday afternoon, in what appeared to be Palestinian retaliation for the targeting of Islamic Jihad commanders.
Dawoud Shehab, a spokesperson for the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad, had said Israel "must expect a response at any moment and anywhere,” but one day after the air strike, a tense calm still prevailed.
The chief of Iran’s general staff Mohammad Bagheri said Wednesday that Iran “will assist Palestine with all its power,” according to Tasnim news agency affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC).
Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (center) and Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei during a meeting on December 31, 2018, in Tehran
Meanwhile, one source told Iran International that Tehran’s pressure has deepened existing policy disagreements among Hamas leaders.
As a tense calm prevailed earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is ready to fight Iran on multiple fronts if needs be. He insisted that “95% of Israel’s security problems come from Iran,” referring to “an attempt by Iran to start a multi-front campaign against us.”
Israel blamed Iran for a large-scale military confrontation in early April when Palestinian groups aligned with the Islamic Republic launched hundreds of rockets against Israel from Gaza and Lebanon.
Iranian officials did not try to hide their satisfaction that the “resistance front”, as they call their militant proxies in the region, had “humiliated Israel.” IRGC commander, in particular, call for more military action, boasting that end of Israel is near.
Israel “will do all it can to prevent Iran from establishing terror fronts around us,” Netanyahu said at a conference for a right-leaning group of former senior defense officers.
Iran International’s sources say Hamas leaders in Gaza understand that a new military confrontation will hurt Palestinian civilians and their livelihood. They also have to face the danger of being targeted by Israel. However, leading figures living outside Palestinian territories and enjoying more security and close cooperation with Iran advocate for joining the Islamic Jihad in a new confrontation with Israel.
Iran reached a Chinese-brokered agreement with Saudi Arabia in March to restore diplomatic relations after a seven-year hiatus. Official in Tehran have repeatedly claimed that the move was a strategic defeat for the United States and a victory for Iran.
Having partly reduced their isolation in the region, the Iranian regime seemed emboldened and intensified its rhetoric against Israel in March and April.
Meanwhile, Israel is not just concerned about attacks by Tehran’s proxies and allies, but is also worried about its expanding nuclear program.
By most estimates Iran has accumulated enough enriched uranium to be able to build up to five nuclear weapons within a few months.
Netanyahu also reiterated in statements on Tuesday and Wednesday that Israel will do all it can to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and will try to prevent Iran from “establishing terror fronts around us.”