(August 26, 2021 / MEMRI) The former head of Iran’s Quds Force, Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, personally oversaw the development of Palestinian terror groups’ weapons- and rocket-manufacturing capabilities, according to Talal Naji, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command.
The PFLP-GC is a Syria-based PFLP splinter group that has carried out multiple deadly terrorist attacks against Israel.
In an interview that aired on Iran’s Al-Alam television on Aug. 11, Naji said that Iran had made “a great contribution” to and invested “a lot of effort” in developing the military capabilities of the Palestinian “resistance.”
Iran’s efforts included “training, developing weapons and teaching our comrades among the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank how to manufacture weapons and rockets,” said Naji. “As you know, there are difficulties in transporting these weapons and rockets to occupied Palestine,” he added.
Despite those difficulties, however, “Iran made an effort to support us, in transporting weapons by way of sea,” said Naji.
Naji went on to state that Soleimani had told him that Iran sent 10 ships loaded with weapons to Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza and the West Bank.
“Most people probably do not know about these ships. Most people know about one ship called Karine A, which was raided by the Zionist enemy in the Red Sea,” he said.
“By the way, the Karine A was sent to the martyr Yasser Arafat, to the brothers in the Fatah movement, not to Hamas, the [Palestinian Islamic] Jihad, the PFLP-GC, the PFLP … no. It was sent to Fatah. Ten ships were sent to the various factions of the Palestinian resistance in Palestine. This was in the beginning, when we were transporting weapons,” he added.
The PFLP-GC had been directly involved in these weapons transfers, according to Naji.
“The martyr Jihad Jibril—the son of [PFLP-GC founding leader] Abu Jihad, Ahmad Jibril—was assassinated by Zionist gangs in Beirut. His car was blown up on May 20, 2002. They killed him because he was in charge of transporting weapons from Lebanon to Gaza,” he said.
“He sent three ships from Lebanon to the Gaza coast, far out at sea. The weapons were thrown from the ships in tightly sealed barrels. We coordinated with the brothers in Hamas. The martyr Jihad Jibril asked them to send divers and small boats in order to retrieve the barrels from the sea and bring them to the coast, and we used to split the weapons, and even give most of the weapons to them, because of their [relative] size and their responsibility.”
However, it was decided at a “later stage,” under Soleimani’s supervision, that the Gaza terror factions needed the ability to manufacture their own weapons, including rockets, he said.
The first rockets were quite limited, with a range of only two kilometers, he added.
“Can you imagine this? The weight of the payload was very limited, and thus its impact was minor.”
Naji reiterated that it had been Soleimani who supervised the development of these rockets, including training Palestinians in their use.
“Sometimes the training took place in the Islamic Republic of Iran, sometimes in Syria and sometimes in Lebanon with the brothers in Hezbollah who are waging jihad. As you know, we are an axis, an axis of resistance. [Soleimani] used to supervise [these efforts] himself,” he said.
It was also Soleimani who was behind the delivery to Gaza of Russian Kornet anti-tank missiles, said Naji.
“The Zionist enemy was surprised by this, when its tanks were destroyed. They have a tank that they are proud of; they consider it to be the pride of the Israeli (arms) industry—the Merkava. [Merkava] tanks were destroyed in 2009. This bore the hallmarks of General Qassem Soleimani, may he rest in peace.”
This is an edited version of an article first published by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
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