Iran has not yet reacted officially to “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, however, has announced in English on his Twitter account that “Any government claiming to support humanity is responsible for Palestine; whether Muslim or not.” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham has condemned the “intensified criminal attacks by the Zionist regime” on various parts of the West Bank and Gaza.
During “Operation Pillar of Defense” in November 2012, Iran expressed total support for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and did not conceal its pride over its material and propagandistic backing for their struggle.
Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said during Operation Pillar of Defense that, while Iran was not sending weapons to Gaza, it “proudly emphasizes that it has provided the Palestinian organizations the technology to produce Fajr-5 (and other) missiles and they can now produce these missiles by themselves in large quantities.” The Fajr-5 has an effective range of 75 kilometers, and during Pillar of Defense missiles of this kind were launched at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
When Pillar of Defense ended, Iran used the window of opportunity to keep supplying the Palestinian terror organizations. The capture of the weapons ship Klos-C with its Syrian-made M-302 missiles was only the tip of the iceberg of Iran’s involvement in supplying these organizations in Gaza – particularly PIJ, which is considered an Iranian client and depends on it for its continued activity. At the start of Operation Protective Edge it was clear that the Gazan terrorist organizations had received missiles that could reach the Haifa region from the Gaza Strip. Hamas’ launch of M-203 at Hadera (July 8) is the longest-range rocket strike by the Gaza-based terrorist organization on an Israeli city to date.
Despite Iran’s tension with Hamas stemming from the Syrian crisis, recently the ties between Iran and Hamas have been renewed, with the former supporting Hamas’ attacks against Israel.
So far in the current round, the PIJ has been responsible for most of the fire from Gaza toward Israel. The PIJ, which receives instructions from Iran, has emphasized in its announcements that it has fired Grad rockets at Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Netivot, Ofakim, and other locations. According to the organization’s battle propaganda, scores of missiles have been fired so far. PIJ has named its operation “The Impenetrable Edifice.”
PIJ reported that one of the rockets fired at Tel Aviv was a Burak-70 type. The organization also possesses Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 missiles produced in Iran. If the fighting with Israel escalates, the organizations are likely to launch more of these missiles toward the Greater Tel Aviv area and northern cities (Hadera, Haifa), believing that to put an end to Israeli attacks, they will need to ramp up the pressure on Israel with strikes on major cities to create a balance of terror that will force Israel to end its operation.
The rocket fire at major cities in Israel emphasizes Iran’s vital role in supplying of missiles; training; and providing missile manufacturing technology to the terrorist organizations. Iran also plays a negative role in any attempt to reach regional diplomatic peace agreements.
The characteristics of the recent escalation is a clear proof that Iran and the terrorist organizations took advantage of periods of calm to smuggle large amounts of “balance-breaking” weaponry via the sea and the Sinai, and to train terrorist organization members in Lebanon and Iran on how to operate these lethal weapons.