TEL AVIV – After months of financial hardship, the coffers of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization are set to overflow with Iranian financing as Tehran officially reconciles with Islamic Jihad leadership, Middle Eastern defense officials told WND.
Egypt is aware of Islamic Jihad members who traveled via the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai and from there to Tehran to facilitate the renewal of Iranian funding of Islamic Jihad, a separate Egyptian security source said.
With Islamic Jihad long refusing to aid the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a key regional ally for Iran, Tehran, until the past two weeks, held back financing for most of the terrorist organization’s projects.
Islamic Jihad became so cash-strapped that even its propaganda television network needed to lay off most of its correspondents and producers. Fighters went months with depleted salaries.
Iran also may have deliberately held back financing of Islamic Jihad because of the intense nuclear negotiations that ended in an agreement last month, the defense officials said.
All that is set to change as Iran has now pledged to renew full sponsorship of Islamic Jihad, the officials said.
The information comes amid a report in Iran’s Fars news agency quoting Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham expressing support for Palestinian “resistance” groups, especially Hamas.
“Iran’s support for all resistance groups continues similar to the past,” Afkham stated in response to a question about whether Tehran’s policy on supporting Hamas had changed.
However, Middle Eastern defense officials here say Iran is not financing Hamas’s political leadership, which instead has drawn closer to Iran’s foe, Saudi Arabia.
Some Iranian financing is being funneled to rival members of Hamas’s so-called military wing as part of an Iranian campaign to destabilize Hamas’s political leadership, which has been engaged in long-term truce talks with Israel, the defense officials said.
The renewed Iranian funding for Islamic Jihad is already paying off.
On Wednesday, a rocket attributed to Islamic Jihad was fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. The rocket landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, with no injuries reported.
The Israel Defense Force on Tuesday announced that four Palestinian members of an Islamic Jihad terror cell had been arrested for plotting to attack Jewish worshipers visiting Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus, considered the third holiest site in Judaism.
The arrests represent the latest alleged Iranian escalation since the signing last month of the nuclear agreement.
Last week, Islamic Jihad fired four rockets from Syria into Israel. Defense officials here corroborated the Times of Israel report last week quoting a senior Israeli security official saying Saeed Izadi, head of the Palestinian Division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s al-Quds Force, planned the rocket attack.
Two of the rockets hit open areas on the Golan Heights while two others landed further inside Israel, striking open areas in the Upper Galilee region. All four rockets were fired from the Syrian sections of the Golan Heights, according to the Israel Defense Force.
In one of the heaviest Israeli bombardments against the Syrian regime in years, the IDF returned artillery fire at 14 Syrian military targets in Syria following the rocket attack.
Last Friday, the Israel Air Force further struck an Islamic Jihad convoy on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
Even though the latest round of fighting was started by Islamic Jihad and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard force, Hezbollah on Sunday increased its alert level to the highest, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai reported Saturday. The report said Hezbollah feared “attempts by Israel to drag Lebanon and Syria into an escalation of a state less than war but more than an operation.”
Hezbollah members were quoted by the newspaper claiming Netanyahu’s government believes that after the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, Israel’s “situation is critical and will soon be tested” with an Israeli escalation.