Analyzing the Islamic Jihad Narrative of the Current Conflict

Recently, Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nahala gave an interview to the Iranian newspaper “Al-Wafaq” which was aired on June 30th, 2023. 
During the interview, which dealt with several subjects regarding the Palestinians’ situation in Gaza and the West Bank, we found some interesting remarks worth mentioning. 
First of all, Nahala addressed the Palestinian terror organization’s “joint operations room”. He claimed that this is an expression of the coordination between the different organizations on the battlefield in terms of coordinating targets, firing missiles, defining fighting sectors, mutual support, and other tasks. Then Nahala stated that there is no need to exaggerate the importance and the activity of this room as it is simply a coordination tool and nothing more, and there is no actual physical headquarter in which representatives from different organization sit together. 
In our understanding, this statement is a sign of Nahala’s dissatisfaction with Hamas’s lack of intervention in the last few rounds of fighting with Israel, in which Hamas left the PIJ to fight on its own. 
Another important remark concerned Iran’s support of Palestinian terror organizations. 
Although this support is not much of a secret, Nahala unhesitatingly admits, in his voice, that Iran is actively supporting the PIJ and other Palestinian organizations. This support, which started after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, continued throughout the years to today. 
The increasing Iranian support of the PIJ and other Palestinian organizations in the past few years, especially in the West Bank, comes from a direct order by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and was carried out by the Quds force. Nahala stated he had close ongoing ties with Quds force’s commander Qassem Suleimani, and that this relationship continues today with his successor Ismail Qaani, both involved in almost every aspect of “the resistance”.  
Nahala further added that Suleimani was one of the biggest advocates of the Palestinian cause, being “more Palestinian than the Palestinians and he loved Jerusalem more than the Jerusalemites…”

Nahala during the interview

It is important to note that this Iranian support is not just political and financial. It includes also weapons smuggling, tactical training, guidance, knowledge on the manufacturing of rockets, munitions, and other fields.  
Nahala stated that this support was a key factor in the Palestinian terror organizations’ significant advancement in their operational capabilities. 
Similar efforts were also made in the West Bank recently, in the fields of weapon smuggling and transfer of knowledge, to increase tension. 
The IDF’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp currently is partially an outcome of Iranian influence and involvement in the activity of different organizations in these areas.  

The third interesting topic Nahala addressed was PIJ efforts to form combat battalions in all the Palestinian cities in the West Bank. The size and ability of those forces vary and depend on the PIJ ability to fund, arm, train, and supply them. 
Nahala pointed out his organization’s cooperation with other terrorist groups and the support he offered them in various fields as part of his strive for internal Palestinian unity. 
In this context, he especially noted the cooperation with some radical elements within the PLO, who oppose a diplomatic solution and the security coordination with Israel, and to which he supplied weapons. This cooperation, according to Nahala helped escalate tensions and violence in the West Bank as of late. 
One last interesting issue Nahala addressed during his interview was the situation in Gaza. 
According to Nahala, although there is an Israeli “siege” on Gaza which makes life there harder, one “cannot say that the life of the Palestinian is miserable and that we cannot find food”. He also added that the conditions in Gaza today are better than before, in every aspect,  and “better than the Syrian refugees at least”. 
It goes without saying that the “siege” Nahala is talking about cannot be accurate because Israel is allowing the import of goods and commodities into Gaza as well as export coming out of Gaza. Israel also supplies Gaza with electricity and tens of thousands of Palestinian workers enter Israel daily.  

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Boaz Shapira

Boaz Shapira

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