Palestinian jihadists threaten rocket attack on Israel if strike on Syria
President Hassan Rouhani marching on Al Quds Day in Tehran on August 2, 2013. The day, invented by Iran in 1979, is held in solidarity with Palestine. Photo by Abayomi Azikiwe, Pan-African News Wire File.
By Hazem Balousha, Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse, translated by Rani Geha
September 02, 2013
Palestinian Islamic Jihad has warned that it may respond if Israel enters any war in Syria, as expectations rise of a possible US strike on Syria.
A high-ranking official from Islamic Jihad told Al-Monitor that — upon request from Iran and Syria — Islamic Jihad may lob rockets at Israel if the events develop toward an all-out war against the Syrian regime and if Israel enters the war.
The source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “Up until now, there has been no decision within Islamic Jihad to bomb Israel in response to an aggression on Syria. But that may happen in one circumstance: if Israel joins that war as a principal party.”
The source said that the strike’s nature and details in terms of its quality and duration will determine Islamic Jihad’s position, given that the second-largest Islamic movement in Palestine still maintains close relations with the Iranian and Syrian regimes as well as with Hezbollah.
“Islamic Jihad’s leadership has currently no significant presence in Syria, but there are still financial and political links. Hezbollah’s position toward the war could negatively or positively affect whether Islamic Jihad will participate,” the source relayed.
Some Al-Quds Brigades elements said that, if permitted, they will fight in Syria alongside Hezbollah elements against any external force threatening the Syrian regime.
“We hope that the border is opened so that we can travel to Syria to participate in repelling any Western aggression on Syria, to which we are grateful for allowing many of our elements to train on its land,” Al-Quds Brigades elements deployed on the Gaza-Israel border told Al-Monitor.
Sheikh Nafez Azzam, a member in the Islamic Jihad’s general political bureau, said that Syria does not need Palestinian fighters to participate because Syria already has enough capabilities and that Palestinian elements participating in that war will not affect the power balance.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, Azzam said that he does not expect Iran will request action from Islamic Jihad in response to a US strike on Syria, and that “Iran understands the Palestinian political complexities. Iran doesn’t need members of Islamic Jihad to fight.”
Islamic Jihad sources told Al-Monitor that Iran pays the group about $3 million a month.
Hassan Abdo, a political writer who is close to Islamic Jihad, believes that whether Islamic Jihad will respond to a US strike on Syria by attacking Israel depends on the nature and size of the US attack.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, he said, “If the strike is comprehensive, then Syria is expected to retaliate against Israel, which may draw a response from Islamic Jihad toward Israel. But according to information, Syria will only be punished without bringing its regime down.”
“The Al-Quds Brigades will not try to portray its shelling of Israeli towns as a response to the attack on Syria because there are many other justifications it can use, such as the Israeli aggression on the Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Al-Quds Brigades doesn’t wish to embarrass Hamas, which is trying to stay away from a confrontation with Israel,” Abdo continued.
Islamic Jihad figures whom Al-Monitor spoke with denied that their group would participate in a war against Syria, be it in Gaza or elsewhere. The group’s media, however, openly supports the Syrian regime against its opponents.
The Islamic Jihad-affiliated Al-Istiqlal newspaper wrote in an editorial on Aug. 29:
The strikes against Syria, which will come from the sea and air in the coming days under the guise of responding to the chemical attack in the Damascus countryside will contribute to the implementation of the partition schemes and will prolong the conflict and the fighting and cause the deaths of tens of thousands of Syrians. Even if we assume that the Syrian opposition will win, it will still not solve the crisis.
Palestinian factions, especially Hamas and Islamic Jihad, made no secret about firing Iranian-made rockets toward Israeli towns in the mid-November 2012 eight-day war. At the time, Islamic Jihad posted large banners in Gaza’s streets saying “Thank you, Iran.”
With the acceleration of the events regarding Syria and the possibility of a US military strike, Islamic Jihad’s leadership does not seem enthusiastic about getting involved in a regional war that is greater than what the group can bear. Political interests, however, may play a role in changing that attitude and draw the group into a confrontation with Israel as well as with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is trying to stay away from a new military confrontation.
Hazem Balousha is a Palestinian journalist based in Gaza City. He has worked as a news producer for BBC World Service, contributed to Deutsche Welle and has written for The Guardian, Al-Raya (Qatar) and other publications. He is the founder of the Palestinian Institute for Communication and Development (PICD). On Twitter: @iHaZeMi
• Iranians rallied Friday across the country to mark Al-Quds Day in solidarity with the Palestinians.
• Rouhani said Friday that the Islamic world should unite to confront the “Zionist regime” of Israel.
• Earlier this week, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators restarted their direct talks in Washington.
By China Weekly/Xinhua
August 03, 2013
TEHRAN — Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied Friday across the country to mark Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day in solidarity with the Palestinians, condemning Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian lands.
In Tehran, the participants chanted slogans and carried banners in the rally, underscoring the return of dislocated Palestinians to their homeland and holding of democratic referendum as the way to solve the Palestinian issue.
Iranian government officials and military commanders also participated in the rallies in Tehran.
Al-Quds Day, an annual event that began in Iran in 1979, is observed on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic republic as well as in several Arab countries.
On Friday, Iran’s president-elect Hassan Rouhani said that the Islamic world should unite to confront the “Zionist regime” of Israel, semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
Rouhani told reporters on the sidelines of a rally here marking Al-Quds Day that “International Quds Day is a day to demonstrate the unity of the Muslim world and resistance against oppression and aggression.”
He further described the occasion as “a reminder that Muslims will never forget their historic right to resist oppression and aggression.”
Also, Iran’s outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday the Palestinian issue cannot be solved through dialogue, referring to the resumption of peace talks between Israel and Palestinians in the past days, Press TV reported.
Earlier this week, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators restarted their direct talks in Washington after more than two years of suspension. The two sides have agreed to start final status talks within two weeks either in Israel or the Palestinian territories.
However, Ahmadinejad said it would be “naive” to think that the issue of Palestine could be resolved through “talks and divvying up a territory,” adding that Israel is a platform for the West to dominate the Middle East.
He said the Western supporters of Israel are sowing discord in Syria and Egypt in line with their efforts to establish a new Middle East.
Besides, a senior Iranian cleric said Friday that the U.S.- backed “compromise” negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel have never benefited downtrodden Palestinians.
“Over the past 60 years since the occupation of Palestine, these compromise negotiations have not yielded an iota of benefit for the oppressed Palestinians,” Tehran’s interim Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami was quoted as saying by Press TV.
He further described resistance as the only solution to the Palestinian cause and praised Palestinian fighters for their strong response to the Israeli aggression during its eight-day military offensive against the Gaza Strip back in November 2012.
By Ma’an news
June 26, 2013
GAZA CITY — Israeli aircraft shelled several Islamic Jihad sites in Gaza on Monday morning in response to rocket fire.
A Ma’an reporter said several F16 aircraft shelled four sites belonging to the military wing of Islamic Jihad, Saraya al-Quds, in Rafah.
Shelling was also reported in empty areas near the Asda city in Khan Younis and in the Deir al-Balah district, including the al-Zawayda village.
Tunnels were also targeted along the Rafah border, with no injuries reported.
Israel also shut down all crossings into Gaza, Palestinian Authority liaison official Raed Fattouh said.
Fattouh said he was told the closure was for “security reasons.”
A source said Israel would only be allowing humanitarian cases through the passenger crossing Erez in northern Gaza.
The Israeli army said it targeted two weapon storage facilities and a rocket launch site and that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system had intercepted two rockets.
In a statement, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner described the rocket fire as “an intolerable act of aggression against Israel and its civilians. Hamas is held accountable for all acts of terrorism deriving from the Gaza Strip,” and the Israeli army is “determined to safeguard” Israel.
The army also said Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories would be closing Kerem Shalom cargo crossing “until further notice,” but did not provide further details on the passenger crossing.
Speaking to public radio on Monday morning, head of the parliamentary foreign and defense committee Avigdor Lieberman said Israel should consider reoccupying the Gaza Strip and “cleansing” it.
“It’s not simple, but on the long run there will be no choice if we want to see a different reality there,” Lieberman said of Gaza.
The rocket fire followed the announcement Sunday that Islamic Jihad was temporarily suspending ties with Hamas, accusing Gaza authorities of being responsible for the death of one of the group’s members.
Raed Qassim Jundeyeih, a member of Islamic Jihad’s militant wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, died on Sunday after being shot a day earlier by Hamas police officers.