Anyone questioning Tehran’s immense influence over what transpires on both Israel’s northern and southern borders was provided with definitive proof on Oct. 27 by the barrage of rocket fire launched by members of Islamic Jihad’s military arm, who take their orders from the ayatollah regime in Iran regardless of whether or not those orders serve the interests of Hamas, the sovereign of the coastal enclave.
Indeed, not only did the rocket fire take Hamas by surprise, the terrorist organization was also forced to pay a steep price for Iran’s capriciousness.
A series of airstrikes carried out by the Israeli Air Force in response targeted dozens of Hamas command centers and training camps and completely destroyed the building housing the recently constructed command headquarters of Hamas’s national security forces in Gaza. The construction of the headquarters was aimed at conveying a message to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah that, despite Egyptian efforts towards reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions, Hamas does not plan to give up its control over the territory any time soon. Hamas also wants to ensure plans to rehabilitate Gaza move ahead, whether that requires cooperating with the P.A. to that end or elegantly bypassing P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas and his men in Ramallah.
Following attempts last week by Palestinians, and even more perversely some officials in Israel, to attribute the launch of a rocket at Beersheva and the Dan region to a lightning storm, Islamic Jihad rushed to ask for Cairo’s assistance in reaching a ceasefire with Israel before Jerusalem could embark on a vast retaliatory air campaign in Gaza, this time against Islamic Jihad.
In Arab media outlets, Islamic Jihad officials flat-out denied Saturday’s rocket fire was launched under direct orders from Tehran. They also refused to acknowledge that it was aimed at thwarting a possible agreement in Gaza that would allow U.S. President Donald Trump to implement a regional process to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and normalize relations between Israel and moderate Arab states.
This time, one of the reasons provided for the rocket attack was a little more logical from the standpoint of the Palestinians, who claimed it was aimed at marking the anniversary of the assassination of Islamic Jihad founder Fathi Shaqaqi, who was killed inside his home in Malta in an operation attributed to the IDF’s elite Shayetet 13 and Sayeret Matkal units.
Abbas’s visit to Oman, a sultanate that maintains good relations with Iran and often mediates between the Islamic Republic and moderate Arab states, followed by a visit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just a few days later, got the attention of decision makers in Tehran.
It seems they were concerned a diplomatic plan of some sort was brewing between Egypt, the United States, Israel and the Palestinians that could pave the way for a long-term ceasefire in Gaza and possibly an arrangement that could lay the groundwork for severing the tentacles of the Iranian octopus.
This octopus is now grasping at Gaza, not only in an effort to establish itself on Israel’s southern border, but also to send a message to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and the government in Cairo that Tehran is closer to Cairo than ever, and is working to establish itself in Gaza in precisely the same way it did in Syria and is in the process of doing in Lebanon.