TEL AVIV – Iran in recent days sent a series of missile and rocket convoys to the Islamic Jihad terrorist group in the Gaza Strip, a senior Egyptian security official told WND.
The official said the increased weapons flow to Gaza is seen as part of a wider Iranian strategy to prepare for the possibility of a war involving Syria, with particular concern about the prospect of a future Turkish or NATO confrontation with Damascus.
The official said the Egyptian military aided in the attempt to stop some of the Iranian convoys. He said some weapons made it through to Gaza.
The Iranian arming of Islamic Jihad is causing tension between the jihadist group and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
WND previously reported that according to well-placed sources within Hamas speaking to WND, the jihadist group has been asked by the Egyptian military to stay out of any future confrontation between Israel and Iran.
For the first time in recent years, Hamas, feeling confident from major Muslim Brotherhood gains in the region, is considering distancing itself somewhat from Iran, the sources said.
The group may even remain largely neutral if Israel strikes Iran’s suspected nuclear sites, the sources said. The sources added, however, that no decision has been made.
Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood belong to the Sunni stream of Islam while Iran’s leadership espouses fundamentalist Shiite Islam. While Iran has long supported Sunni groups such as Hamas, the major differences in Islamic ideology and practice have always caused unease.
Indeed, one of the most senior Hamas officials, speaking previously to WND on condition of anonymity, once said he would ultimately be pleased if Israel strikes Iran’s nuclear sites, even if it means scaled-back Iranian funding to his group. The Hamas official said he fears Iran would use a nuclear umbrella to enforce a Shiite superpower in the Middle East at the expense of the Sunnis.
According to several Hamas sources, there has been tension between the jihad group and Iran over Hamas’ decision to not aid Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s battle against an insurgency targeting his regime.
The uprising has been supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. Syria is a major Iranian partner in the region.
Tension between Israel and Syria has been rising in recent days. Yesterday, Syria’s former minister said the country can use its chemical weapons if it faces “external aggression.”
“Syria will never use (chemical weapons) against Syrians no matter what,” Jihad Makdissi added in a news conference aired on state television.
He said that the weapons were guarded by the Syrian army.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consulted the heads of Israel’s security establishment over the tension with Syria.
“We are monitoring the events in Syria closely and are prepared for any development to come,” Netanyahu said.