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Iran Intensifies West Bank Arming Drive

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

During phone calls (August 23) with PIJ and Hamas leaders, Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei's advisor for international affairs and the secretary-general of the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening, emphasized the successes of the Axis of Resistance resulting from collaboration between Palestinian resistance groups and Hezbollah under the banner "the unity of the fronts." Velayati praised the Palestinian people's resistance, particularly in the West Bank. Leaders from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad expressed gratitude for Iran's support and highlighted the role of resistance in liberating Palestine. Velayati also congratulated Hezbollah's Deputy Secretary-General for the anniversary of the Lebanese Resistance's victory in the 2006 July War.

"unity of the fronts to liberate alQds"

The "Electronic Hezbollah" channel published on social networks its video under the title "The direction (Qibla) - Palestine," in which fighters belonging to different brigades are shown fighting as one to demonstrate the "unity of the fronts" وحدة الساحات against Israel " Imad Mughniyeh –Lebanon (assassinated in Damascus 2008); Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis-Iraq assassinated by a targeted U.S. drone strike at Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020, Fathi Shqaqi- Palestine/ assassinated 26 October 1995 in, Malta. Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi – Yemen. Killed on September 2004 and Qassem Soleimani – Iran. Assassinated by a targeted U.S. drone strike at Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020. All the brigades are shown fighting their way to conquer Jerusalem.

Iran's escalating activities in the West Bank underscore its drive to expand its influence and challenge Israel through various means. This strategic approach involves emulating Hezbollah's successful tactics in Lebanon, including employing Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP) explosive devices, sniper attacks, ambushes, and launching rockets and drones towards Israeli civilians and the IDF.

Khamenei's repeated engagement with Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leadership highlights their pivotal role in Iran's strategy. The PIJ, distinct from Hamas, garners significant support from Iran. With Khamenei's directive to arm the West Bank akin to Gaza and IRGC's consistent efforts, Iran aims to bolster PIJ's military capabilities. High-level meetings coincide with an uptick in terrorist incidents, aligning with Iran's broader doctrine of encircling Israel through multiple fronts.

The timing of Velayati's phone conversations is noteworthy, occurring just one day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implicated Iran in the recent operations conducted by Palestinian militants in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Ali Akbar Velayati Khamenei's advisor for international affairs talked over the phone with Ziyad Al-Nakhaleh, the Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), underling that "the successes of the Axis of Resistance" on all fronts were a direct outcome of the unity and solidarity between the Palestinian Resistance factions and Hezbollah. Velayati hailed the Palestinian people's resistance, particularly in the West Bank, calling it a "victory of their determination and resilience" and promised that Iran would continue to support the resistance. Al-Nakhaleh expressed appreciation for Iran's unwavering support for the Palestinian cause and updated Velayati on the recent developments in the West Bank.

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the political bureau of Hamas, also held a separate phone call with the leader's advisor and stressed that "Israel's attempts to sustain itself are doomed to failure despite its earnest efforts to protect itself" and that recent achievements were the result of cooperation and support from allies, particularly Iran.

Haniyeh also stressed the pivotal role of the resistance in the West Bank to "the liberation of Palestine and defeating the Zionist enemy," adding that "there can be no political or security resolution in the West Bank until the Zionist occupation is entirely expelled from the Palestinian territory…the resistance in the West Bank will continue. Your (Iran's) support greatly affects these victories and has a special place in the resistance front".

Velayati also congratulated Naim Qassem, Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah Sheikh, in a phone call commemorating the anniversary of "the Lebanese Resistance's victory" in the 33 days war" during the 2006 July War. He expressed "Iran's joy for the remarkable accomplishments achieved under the guidance of Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah's leadership," underlying that these triumphs "stand as a source of pride for the entire Islamic world, and you (Hizballah) consistently serve as a prominent symbol of the struggle in both Lebanon and the broader Islamic community." Naeem Qasim said that the Supreme Leader's support and the positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran undoubtedly played a significant role in these victories.

The telephone discussions between Velayati and high-ranking officials from Hamas and Islamic Jihad are consistent with Iran's ongoing initiative, directed by Iran's leader and implemented by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF), to reinforce Palestinian groups in the West Bank and supply them with weaponry. The recent objective is to enable rocket launches from the West Bank into Israel. While this endeavor is still nascent, rocket launch attempts are progressively intensifying. Iran is keen on expanding these efforts in the pursuit of this goal.

Iran places great importance on expanding its activities in the West Bank. As a component of Iran's endeavor to consolidate various fronts of resistance against Israel, aided notably by Hezbollah, Iran is actively working to integrate the West Bank into the active fronts against Israel . This involves furnishing the West Bank with rockets, anti-tank missiles, and sophisticated and lethal explosive devices.

It aims to enhance the process of Lebanonization concerning actions against the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank. This involves deploying tactics such as using Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP) explosive devices against the IDF forces, employing snipers, setting up ambushes, and launching rockets from the West Bank towards Israeli civilians.

Khamenei's and Iran's senior officials repeated engagement with Islamic Jihad leadership highlights the organization's crucial role and perceived value in Iran's strategy to challenge Israel. As a protégé of Iran, the PIJ is distinguished from Hamas, which maintains a relatively more independent operational approach.

Khamenei declared (2014), "I believe the West Bank should be armed just like Gaza, and action must be taken in this direction." On multiple occasions since 2014, senior commanders of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have made an effort – mainly through IRGC's Quds Force - to arm Palestinians in the West Bank by orders from Supreme Leader Khamenei.

In August 2022, following the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Operation Breaking Dawn against the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, IRGC Commander General Hossein Salami met with Ziyad al-Nakhallahto discuss an agreement to enhance agreement to enhance Islamic Jihad's activities in the northern West Bank.

During an interview with the Supreme Leader website, Salami declared (Aug 2022) that Iran would provide arms to the "resistance" in the West Bank, similar to its support in Gaza. Salami confirmed that the process had already commenced. "The West Bank becomes a significant factor, and Khamenei has emphasized the importance of arming the West Bank." He ridiculed Israel's inability to halt the influx of weapons into the West Bank "Acquiring weapons today has become more accessible compared to the past. The proliferation and advancement of technology cannot be prevented...transportation of weapons has become relatively straightforward, catching the Israelis off guard in most cases".

The high-level meetings coincide with a rise in terrorist attacks in the Judea and Samaria region (West Bank), some of which were carried out by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas. These attacks have encouraged Iranas it seeks to establish the West Bank as an additional battleground in its ongoing conflict with Israel. This aligns with Iran's broader national security strategy, which aims to encircle Israel by creating multiple fronts of confrontation.

Iran wants to duplicate the capabilities that Hezbollah used in Lebanon against the IDF - IEDs explosively formed penetrator (EFPs ), rocket and drone launching - and later used against the coalition forces in Iraq, the Saudis-led coalition in Yemen and Gaza, also against the IDF, and settlers in the West Bank.

"Hezbollah" is the Iranian model of success and the guide for the other proxy organizations throughout the Middle East. Hezbollah's infiltration and the attack in the Megiddo prove that Hezbollah has access to the West Bank and the Israeli Arabs who enter the West Bank unhindered. That is why recruiting an activist from among the Israeli Arabs is top on Iran's and Hizballah's agenda.

In any case, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force(IRGC-QF ) commanders are working hard to implement the Supreme Leader's orders to arm terrorist organizations in the West Bank, just like in Gaza.


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