Just days before Palestinian terror groups began bombarding Israel with rocket attacks, a leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) said the group's funding and weapons are provided by Iran.
Ramez al-Halabi, a PIJ official, disclosed his group's deep ties to the Islamic regime in a May 7 interview on Iraqi television just prior to the bombardment of Israel, part of a deepening conflict that threatens to throw the region into larger war.
"The mujahideen [terrorists] in Gaza and in Lebanon use Iranian weapons to strike the Zionists. We buy our weapons with Iranian money. An important part of our activity is under the supervision of Iranian experts," al-Halabi said. "The contours of the victories in Palestine as of late were outlined with the blood of [former Iranian military leader] Qassem Soleimani, Iranian blood." His remarks were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which tracks jihadist activity.
While much focus has been placed on PIJ and Hamas, both of which are behind the ongoing rocket attacks against Israel, al-Halabi's comments show that Iran is fueling the conflict.
Tehran's central role in arming Palestinian terror groups could become a flashpoint as the Biden administration continues its efforts to roll back economic sanctions on Iran as part of a revamped nuclear deal. Amid the onslaught in Israel, which has no ending in sight as both sides dig in, Israeli leaders are likely to pressure the United States against awarding Iran potentially billions in cash assets.
Al-Halabi, in his Arabic-language interview, claimed the rockets his terror group fires at Israeli civilians are signed by Soleimani, the Iranian general who was killed by a U.S. drone strike.
"I am not sorry, I am proud to say that the rockets that are used to pound Tel Aviv have an Iranian signature on them, the signature of Qassem Soleimani," he said, adding that Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip celebrate Iran and its hardline leadership.
"Almost every home in Gaza has a picture of Qassem Soleimani, a picture of the Islamic Republic, as well as a picture of the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation," he said.