The PA fears that Iran is encouraging Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to reject a ceasefire and ignite an intifada in the West Bank.
The Iranians hope that an intifada will lead to the collapse of the PA Chairman’s rule and give Hamas a foothold to take over the West Bank.
Senior PA sources express concern that Iran is working with Hamas to ignite a large intifada in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which will also spread to the Arab sector in Israel, destabilizing the PA Chairman’s rule and bringing it down.
According to them, Iran is exerting pressure on the Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations to continue its rocket attacks on Israel while assuring that it will help with money and weapons to torpedo any agreement on a ceasefire.
The flareup in the security situation of the territories and Israel during the month of Ramadan encouraged Iran to believe the ground was ripe for an intifada against Israel. According to Hamas sources, Iran was party to the secret about Hamas’ premeditated plan to attack Jerusalem with rockets on “Jerusalem Day.”
In recent days, senior Iranian officials have held telephone conversations with Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders, Ismail Haniyeh and Ziyad Nakhalah, expressing strong support for the rocket attack on Israel, encouraging them to continue firing rockets at Israel.
Among those who spoke with the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were General Esmail Ghanni, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force (Qassem Soleimani’s successor) and Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
On May 17, 2021, Ali Akbar Velayati told Hamas leader Haniyeh in a phone call: “You have proved that Israel is weaker than a spider’s web; Iran stands with the resistance and with the Palestinian people.” General Esmail Ghanni said on May 17: “The Palestinians need to prepare for the management of their country after the destruction of Israel. Iran will do everything possible to help liberate all Palestinian land.”
Ismail Haniyeh responded to Ghanni that “the campaign for Jerusalem is the campaign for all Muslims,” also alluding to Shi’ite Muslims, not just Sunni Muslims.
Iran recognizes the weakness of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas following the cancellation of the Palestinian elections and the split in the Fatah movement, as well as the instability of Israel’s political system, which is struggling to form a stable government and may go to its fifth election in two years.
Iran’s interests in bringing about a security crisis and an intifada include:
- Overthrow the PA chairman’s rule and prepare the ground for Hamas’ takeover of the West Bank.
- Create security chaos in Israel by pushing Israeli Arabs to launch a violent rebellion against state authorities.
- Retaliation against Israel for its ongoing bombing of Iranian targets in Syrian territory and the Israeli Mossad’s covert actions against the Iranian nuclear project.
- The collapse of the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. In the Iranians’ assessment, the conflagration between Israel and the Palestinians will help thwart any military alliance between Israel and the Gulf States against Iran.
In recent years, Iran has supported Hamas and Islamic Jihad with funds and weapons beyond the funds that came from Qatar to help Hamas’ military buildup. Also, Hamas’ annual budgets came from Iran.
Even during the crisis between Khaled Mashaal, former chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, and the Iranian leadership and Syria in 2012, Iran continued to transfer funds and weapons to Hamas’ military-terrorist wing. In addition, it provided Hamas with technological knowledge regarding rockets and unmanned aircraft and trained Hamas’ elite “Nokhba” and naval commando fighters within the ranks of the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
According to Israeli security sources, Iran recently transferred technological know-how to Hamas’ military-terrorist wing in order to improve the guidance of their rockets.
On May 7, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei praised the Palestinians’ “new intifada,” saying: “Israel is a terrorist base against the Palestinian people and other Islamic peoples. It is a blood-shedding entity, and it is our general responsibility to fight the oppression and terror of the Zionist entity.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also condemned the “Zionist attacks” on the Palestinian people and expressed support for the resistance organizations.
He attacked Egypt, Jordan, and the rest of the states in the region for their “silence on what is happening to the Palestinians.”