By Yaakov Lappin, JPost-—
Elements in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Iranian-backed terror faction in Gaza, have been trying to outflank Hamas and brand themselves as the “true” jihadist entity operating out of the Strip, and civilians in both Israel and Gaza have been paying a price as a result.
Iran supplies PIJ with tens of millions of dollars per year, along with weapons transfers and know-how. PIJ remains Iran’s go-to organization for amplifying the Islamic Republic’s destabilizing influence in and around Gaza.
Both Hamas and PIJ are ideologically committed to the destruction of Israel through armed conflict, as well as to indiscriminately firing on Israeli civilians, and guerilla attacks on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). But Hamas, which also receives funds and weapons know-how from Iran, is more constrained by its role as a government.
As a regime, Hamas has much to lose in any new full-scale conflict with Israel, and is – at least for now – deterred. As a result, Hamas has been responsive to Egyptian attempts to mediate a long-term truce arrangement, which would see international funds invested in Gaza in response to a lull in attacks on Israel.
Those factors do not apply to Iran’s closest proxy in Gaza, PIJ.
PIJ’s rocket arsenal amounts to more than 10,000 projectiles, and is larger than Hamas’s own inventory of surface-to-surface rockets. PIJ, like Hamas, uses local manufacturing processes to develop its arsenal, and embeds the launchers in the middle of Palestinian civilian neighborhoods. Iran pays for this terrorist infrastructure, while also transferring weapons production know-how and combat doctrines to PIJ operatives.
Through its sponsorship of Gaza’s terror armies, Iran ensures it has an influence in the Strip. PIJ’s military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, some 10,000 armed members, compared with Hamas’s estimated 30,000-strong terrorist army, known as the Al-Qassam Brigades. Continue Reading….