In Iran’s Quiet War with Israel, Gaza Is but One Front among Many

In the past two weeks, Palestinian Islamic Jihad has fired nearly 1,500 rockets into the Jewish state, killing one Israeli and five Palestinians. On Saturday, after a five-day IDF campaign, a ceasefire went into effect, which seems to be holding despite a few sporadic violations. Islamic Jihad operates under the direction of Iran—more so even than Hamas, which is also beholden to Tehran. Jonathan Schanzer suggests the most recent conflict might be connected to the Islamic Republic’s broader struggle with Israel:

Earlier this year, amid flaring tensions during the Ramadan holiday in April, Hamas brazenly shot more than 30 rockets at Israel, wounding three. The IDF fired artillery at the positions from which the rockets had flown, but stopped there. Admittedly, if Hamas’s goal was to draw Israel into a two-front war, it failed. . . . Days later, on April 9, the leaders of Hamas and Hizballah met in Beirut to discuss their joint strategy against Israel. They released photos depicting their conversations held beneath photos of the former Iranian supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini and the current supreme leader Ali Khamenei. The message was unmistakable: the Iran-led axis is preparing for a multifront war with Israel.

Releasing the photo was an audacious message to send to the Israelis, who have an impressive track record of removing threat actors from the battlefield. But the photo served a deeper purpose. It confirmed to Israel that the Iranian proxy threat has evolved. For several years, sporadic reports have pointed to the existence of a “nerve center” in Beirut. Participants include senior figures from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other groups. The nerve center is reportedly designed to coordinate the activities of the Iran-backed terrorist groups, to target Israel more efficiently.

According to data collected by Foundation for Defense of Democracies, more than 1,500 terrorist attacks have targeted Israelis in the West Bank and over the Green Line since March of last year alone.

Israeli security services believe that Iran (by way of Hizballah) is the primary source for the weapons flooding the West Bank. But there may be others. In April, a Jordanian parliamentarian was caught at the Allenby Bridge, between Jordan and the West Bank, with a jaw-dropping amount of weaponry along with more than $6 million in gold.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Gaza, Iran, Israeli Security, Jordan, Palestinian Islamic Jihad


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy