he pictures coming out of Tehran the last few days went a long way toward explaining events in the South of Israel.
Here was Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah’s meeting on Wednesday with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabollahian. On Thursday, it was Nakhalah meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. And then on Saturday, after the beginning of Operation Breaking Dawn, a picture was released of him in a tête-à-tête with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) head Hossein Salami.
Under Nakhalah’s leadership, Islamic Jihad – whose founder Fathi Shikaki took his inspiration for establishing the organization in 1981 from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the 1979 Iranian Revolution – has turned into a fully owned and operated subsidiary of Iran.
While Iran and Islamic Jihad had a brief falling out in 2015-2016 over the Saudi campaign against the Houthis in Yemen, today Islamic Jihad is to Iran in Gaza what Hezbollah is to the Islamic Republic in Lebanon, and the Houthis are to the Iranians in Yemen.
Iran supports Hamas but it controls Islamic Jihad. There is a difference. To understand the latter terrorist group’s behavior over the past week, it is important to understand Iran’s interests. One need not be a brilliant Mideast strategist to understand them: cause Israel as much hurt as possible.
“We are with you on this path until the end – and let Palestine and the Palestinians know that they are not alone,” Salami told Nakhalah during a meeting in Tehran.
Salami said Islamic Jihad’s actions have ushered in a “new era,” that Israel “will pay a heavy price once again for the recent crime,” and that “Palestinian resistance groups” today have “the ability to manage major wars.”