A senior figure in the terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad said the organization received “direct orders” from the late Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani up until his assassination in a US airstrike last year, and that rockets supplied by the Iranians were used to attack Israel.
Speaking during a December interview with the Iranian al-Alam TV, the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziyad al-Nakhaleh, said “nothing happened [in Gaza] without his direct orders and supervision,” according to a translation this week by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
This came in addition to Soleimani’s efforts to supply the PIJ with modern missiles, and weapons, including those used to attack Israel’s economic and technological hub, Tel Aviv.
“It was almost miraculous. It was very expensive in terms of technology, security, and capabilities” al-Nakhaleh said, adding “I can say that the missiles that [Soleimani] delivered to the Gaza Strip were the ones used to attack Tel Aviv. I can say that Hajj Qassem played a pivotal role in the fact that the Palestinians ventured to attack the capital of the Zionist entity.”
The PIJ chief 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.
In 2009, three airstrikes destroyed a convoy of trucks in western Sudan reportedly carrying long-range Iranian missiles to the Gaza Strip. A mysterious explosion in a weapons plant in Khartoum in 2012, which killed four people, was believed to be the result of an Israeli airstrike targeting arms destined for terror groups in Gaza. In 2014 a large explosion occurred in a Sudanese ammunition warehouse, in an alleged Israeli attack targeting weapons intended for Gaza.
The local manufacturing of rockets in the Gaza Strip is also attributed to Soleimani’s guidance, according to al-Nakhaleh. “This is a great and important issue, and without a doubt played a role in strengthening the Palestinian resistance.” adding that, “[Soleimani] did not train [the Palestinians] himself, obviously, but he gave instructions to the experts who supervised these matters.”
The Quds Force, headed by Soleimani until his assassination in January 2020, is one of five branches in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, designated a terrorist organization by the US.
Hamas, the PIJ and several smaller terror factions held a joint military drill in December, during which several rockets were fired toward the sea, in an effort to send a “clear message to the Zionist enemy.”
Tuesday saw Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fire a rocket at Israel. The Israeli military did not specify where the projectile landed, but Hebrew media reports indicated it struck an open field near Kibbutz Nahal Oz on the Gaza border.
The incident came a day after two rockets were fired from the Strip toward the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, both landing in the sea just off the coast of the city. In response, IDF jets bombed sites where the Hamas terror group was digging underground tunnels in southern Gaza, the IDF said.
Though it was not immediately clear which terror group fired Monday’s or Tuesday’s rockets, the IDF said Hamas was ultimately responsible as it is the de facto ruler of the Palestinian enclave.
Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, when it expelled its rival Fatah following a bloody struggle for control of the coastal enclave. Israel has fought three wars against terror groups in the Strip since Hamas took control of the area, along with dozens of smaller exchanges of fire.