An Iranian state TV channel said the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force had a phone call Saturday with the head of the Hamas terror group, as the Gaza rulers’ fighting with Israel intensified and entered the sixth day.
Al-Alam, the Arabic-language service of the Iranian state television, reported that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke by telephone with Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani on Saturday.
Ghaani reportedly praised Hamas as offering a “unique and successful answer” to Israel.
At a rally in Qatar Saturday night, meanwhile, Haniyeh vowed Hamas would continue its “resistance” against the “Zionist enemy.”
Warning Israel that Hamas had yet to use all the force at its disposal, Haniyeh told the hundreds at the rally that “resistance is the shortest road to Jerusalem” and that Palestinians will not accept anything less than a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
“The Zionist enemy struck Gaza, flattened towers and carried out massacres,” thinking that this would force a retreat. But as the Israeli attacks escalate, he said, “the resistance will increase [its force] to a higher level.”
Moments ago, chief of Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, addressing an enormous crowd in Doha, Qatar. pic.twitter.com/FdLQfpKNFE
— Arwa Ibrahim (@arwaib) May 15, 2021
Meanwhile, Qatar’s foreign minister on Saturday met with Haniyeh and called for an end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, state media said. “The international community must act urgently to put an end to Israel’s brutal and repeated attacks against civilians in Gaza and (Jerusalem’s) Al-Aqsa mosque,” Qatar’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said. He assured Haniyeh of Qatar’s support for its “Palestinian brothers.”
Palestinian terror groups have tied the escalation in Gaza to the unrest in Jerusalem, connected to the situation on the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the pending eviction of a number of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Hamas officials have praised Iran for providing it weapons and aid in its fight against Israel, Tehran’s regional rival.
The IDF said Saturday that Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip have fired roughly 2,300 rockets and mortar shells toward Israel since the outbreak of fighting on Monday.
The military said at least 380 of the projectiles failed to cross the border and landed within the coastal enclave. According to the IDF, approximately 1,000 of the projectiles, which were heading toward populated areas, were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Additionally, the military said Saturday its forces shot down another explosives-carrying drone that flew into Israeli territory from Gaza, the fifth since Wednesday.
The “homemade” kamikaze drone, named the “Shehab” by the Hamas terror group, is said to be almost identical to the Qasef-2K unmanned aircraft, used by Yemen’s Iran-back Houthi rebels, itself a variant of the Iranian Ababil drones.
#Israel IDF footage of the shootdown of a new al Qassam suicide drone, named the "Shehab".
They say all indigenous but if it reminds you extremely strongly of the Houthi Qasef (2K etc) suicide drones, themselves HESA Ababil variants.. You're not alone. pic.twitter.com/MwNJ8AvcQq
— Cᴀʟɪʙʀᴇ Oʙsᴄᴜʀᴀ (@CalibreObscura) May 13, 2021
In December 2020, the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another Gaza-based terror group explained that the former IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani up until his targeted killing in a US airstrike last year had supplied the group with modern missiles, and weapons including those used to attack Tel Aviv.
Ziyad al-Nakhaleh explained that Soleimani personally supervised and managed the transport of missiles in “complex operations” from Syria, to Sudan, to the Gaza Strip, adding that he personally visited Sudan to ensure the shipments were a success.
On Saturday, a 55-year-old man was killed in a rocket strike on the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, as cities and communities in the center and south of Israel were battered by barrages of rockets.
Ten Israelis, including a young child, have been killed in rocket fire since fighting began Monday, and hundreds have been injured.
In Gaza, the toll from the fighting climbed to 145 on Saturday, including dozens of children, with over 1,000 wounded, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups have confirmed 20 deaths in their ranks, though Israel says that number is much higher and that dozens of those killed were terrorists. In addition, the IDF says some deaths were caused by errant rockets fired at Israel which fell short of their targets and landed in the Strip.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.