Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Alon Eviatar, an expert on the Palestinian arena and a former adviser to Israel’s Coordination Unit for Government Activities in the Territories, said that Nakhleh “is a central and dominant figure, cut from the cloth of Islamic Jihad — the front and center symbol of the jihad. He is a loyal ally to the Iranians and belongs to them.”
Nakhleh’s organization serves as Iran’s direct proxy in Gaza, receiving funds and combat and weapons assistance. The organization openly subscribes to Shiite Iran’s Khomenist radical ideology, making PIJ unique among Palestinian armed groups in that regard.
Hamas, for its part, views itself as a Palestinian branch of the hardline Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, and its relationship with Iran is a marriage of convenience, due to a lack of better regional sponsors. In that regard, Hamas’s ideological leanings are different than those of PIJ.
PIJ’s founder and first leader, Shiqaqi, has praised Iran’s Shiite Islamic revolution in his numerous works. Other Sunni groups tend to take a far more suspicious view of Iran’s Shiite Islamist agenda.
The report also quotes PIJ insiders as saying that “Iran was pleased with Nakhleh’s election, which left Mohammed al-Hindi with the post of deputy secretary-general,” adding that “Iran favors Nakhleh over Hindi, given the latter’s close positions to Turkey, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Hamas movement.”