Iran is now claiming that it has armed Hamas with antiaircraft missiles and that the militants have hit and damaged several sophisticated Israeli warplanes.
Earlier it was reported Iranian surface-to-surface missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv were in Hamas’ hands. Such capability long has been a dream of Iranian missile designers, and now Hamas has that added threat.
Meanwhile, a bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv Wednesday, injuring 22 people, just hours before a cease-fire was announced in Cairo between the Israelis and Hamas militants. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed “more forceful” action if the cease-fire didn’t take hold.
Mashregh, a news media outlet run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, reported Wednesday that the conflict in Gaza is quite different from the one in 2009 when Palestinian fighters were limited to Ghassam rockets with a range of only six miles and a warhead of just 22 pounds. Now the Hamas militants are equipped with Fajr-5 missiles, which have a range of 50 miles and a warhead of 385 pounds.
The biggest problem for the Palestinian fighters had been their complete vulnerability to Israeli airstrikes. That has changed, Mashregh wrote, with news within the past week that not only an Israeli drone was hit but Israeli helicopters and as many as 10 F16 fighters were targeted and damaged by antiaircraft missiles.
Israeli fighter jets are among the most technologically advanced with electronic systems guarding against surface-to-air missiles. The use of antiaircraft missiles and surface-to-surface missiles by the Palestinian fighters has sent fear into the heart of the enemy, Mashregh wrote.
Militant leaders have stated clearly that the missiles being used in Gaza by their fighters were provided by Iran, Mashregh said, and that the antiaircraft arms are Iran’s Misagh shoulder-fired missiles.
The Misagh, with a warhead of 3 pounds and a weight of just 37.5 pounds, can easily be carried by one person and features an automatic targeting system that allows the launcher to leave the scene and avoid retaliation.
Mashregh said that because the Palestinian fighters in Gaza lack any viable radar system, they must rely on their own sight to verify the enemy fighters and launch missiles from multiple angles to be successful. The possession of these antiaircraft missiles shows how the “Zionist regime’s” intelligence has failed to understand the depth of the armaments in the hands of the resistance fighters, Mashregh concluded.
Fars News Agency, also run by the Revolutionary Guards, on Wednesday published a statement by Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, a senior commander of Iran’s armed forces, on what he called the defeat of the Americans and Israelis.
“The historical defeat of the Zionists in the current conflict in Gaza is the fourth victory for the resistance front, after the 33-day war (with Hezbollah), the 22-day war (Gaza) and the conflict in Syria,” he said. “The importance of the conflict in Gaza is significant, to the point that the fake perception of the Israeli might has been shattered and any military threat by the Zionists will only result in a worldwide mockery.”
Jazayari warned that Israel’s Iron Dome defense system is incapable of defending against the missiles of “the resistance” and that not all the military capability of the resistance has entered the war scene. “The resistance” refers to Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic regime ruling Iran, in a fiery speech Wednesday lashed out at America, Britain and France for supporting Israel. He called Israelis savages who commit the most heinous crimes and in the face of the power of the resistance “are begging for truce from the Gaza force.”
The Islamic regime ruling Iran has long armed and trained militias in the Palestinian territory for terrorist attacks against Israel. Khamenei previously stated that, “We will support and help any nation, any group fighting against the Zionist regime across the world, and we are not afraid of declaring this.”
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of the award winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).