A Palestinian jihadi group with close ties to Iran claimed on Wednesday that it has expanded out of the Gaza Strip and is now operating in the West Bank and Jerusalem as well.
“We have an armed branch whose goal it is to wage war on the Israeli occupation everywhere,” Hisham Salim, founder of the Harakat al-Sabireen, told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.
“Within this framework we have members in the West Bank and Jerusalem who will soon receive financial and military support from us,” he said.
Harakat al-Sabireen, which translates to “movement of the patient ones,” broke away from Islamic Jihad in May 2014 and has symbols almost identical to those of Lebanon-based Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Salim confirmed to Ma’an that the group, like Hezbollah, is directly funded by the Iranian government, but stressed that his group was non-sectarian, non-religious and certainly not a “Shiite movement.”
“Regarding the funding from Iran — Islamic Jihad, Hamas and many other groups also get funding from them,” he said.
Although Hamas has been the beneficiary of Iranian funding, as a Sunni Muslim organization, it has been wary of Harakat al-Sabireen’s Shiite affiliations, accusing it of trying to disseminate Shiite ideology in the Gaza Strip. This reportedly led to its being banned in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip last July, according to Al-Monitor.
Nevertheless, it appears that the group has continued its activities in Gaza, and claimed responsibility for a bombing close to Khan Younis targeting an IDF patrol in December.
No injuries or damage were reported on the Israeli side in the attack. Palestinian sources said at least one Palestinian farmer was shot and injured when IDF soldiers returned fire toward the source of the blast.
Asked by Ma’an what the group’s stance was regarding the recent spat between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Salim affirmed that it was firmly on the side of Iran, saying, “Saudi Arabia committed a grave error when it executed Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and is fanning the flames of sectarian strife.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this article.