‘Violent Iranian Proxy’: Tehran Funneling ‘Millions’ to Islamic Jihad, Says Gantz
Iran is funneling “tens of millions of dollars” in funds to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) each year, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz claimed, almost a week after three days of fighting between Israel and the terror organization in the Gaza Strip.
“Islamic Jihad has an open tab in Iran [which] provides Islamic Jihad in Gaza with tens of millions of dollars per year,” Gantz stated during a joint press conference with Cypriot Defense Minister Charalambos Petrides. “Iran, via the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps], transfers know-how and attempts to smuggle materials to Gaza, which are then used to build weapons aimed at civilians.”
Following days of tension with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, the IDF initiated a pre-emptive strike against the group last Friday. During the three-day operation, about 1,175 rockets were launched by the PIJ from Gaza towards Israeli territory, out of which nearly 200 fell within the coastal enclave, killing Palestinian civilians, including children, according to the IDF.
Within Israel, the Iron Dome aerial defense system shot down 97 percent of rockets and mortars directed at populated areas, including schools and kindergartens, the IDF said.
“Islamic Jihad in Gaza is a violent Iranian proxy,” Gantz remarked. “Their disregard for human life was tragic — as multiple failed rocket launches led to the deaths of innocent Palestinian children in Gaza.”
Over the past week, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met with the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah in Tehran.
On the second day of the Gaza fighting, al-Nakhalah also met with IRGC commander Hossein Salami in Tehran. Salami warned that Israel will “pay yet another heavy price” for air strikes on Gaza.
“We are with you on this path; until the end, and let Palestine and the Palestinians know that they are not alone,” he was quoted as saying by Arab media.
Summing up the Gaza operation, Gantz cautioned Thursday that “while quiet in the area was restored,” Israel “cannot rest.”
Gantz thanked Petrides, the Cypriot Defense Minister, for his “important visit and commitment” to Israel and hailed joint military and defense cooperation efforts between the two countries.
“It is very meaningful to host a true friend of Israel, after the difficult days we have endured as a nation,” said Gantz. “In such challenging times, partnerships are crucial.”
Gantz pointed to a joint military drill held in Cyprus in June as one example of defense cooperation to bolster the preparedness of each country to developing challenges.
“Our defense partnership is a very robust one,” said Petrides. “It continues to evolve and reaching new heights and levels.”
Petrides said that the two officials agreed to further expand defense cooperation in areas including joint exercises and trainings, armaments and consultations.