Iran has reportedly been coordinating recent Hamas rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and from areas controlled by the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, earlier this month, as well as rallying militant groups in allied nations and regions to launch attacks against Israel.
The leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, Iranian General Esmail Ghaani, held a series of covert meetings with militant groups in the Middle East in recent weeks, including some operating in Syria and Iraq, to discuss attacks on Israel on multiple fronts and with renewed determination, supported by Iran, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Friday. The IRGC, including the Quds Power, is a US-assigned fear based oppressor association.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Ghaani was in Beirut last week to meet with senior leaders of the Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as Hezbollah, at the Iranian embassy in the capital of Lebanon. On the same day, numerous rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip.
Israel responded with airstrikes in Gaza and artillery fire into Lebanon, blaming Hamas for its strong presence in Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon. By focusing on “psychological militant frameworks having a place with Hamas” in Lebanon, Israel was wanting to stay away from a more extensive fire with Hezbollah, which had indicated to Israel that it wasn’t involved. Security experts agree that Hamas would probably not launch an attack without first receiving explicit permission from the terrorist organization that is backed by Iran.
The Journal reported that Ghaani finalized the details of these attacks on Israel during meetings with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, his deputy Saleh al-Arouri, and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah last week in Beirut. On Friday, Nasrallah made fun of Israeli counterstrikes in southern Lebanon.
Talking at a function in Beirut stamping “Quds Day,” or Jerusalem Day — a yearly demonstration of help for the Palestinians hung on the last Friday of each and every Islamic heavenly month of Ramadan — Nasrallah called Israeli explanations in regards to retaliatory strikes “an undeniable deception” and that “no Hezbollah or Hamas framework was struck.”
Israel responded with an airstrike on a military compound belonging to the 4th Division of the Syrian army, led by Maher Assad, the brother of Syrian President Bashar Assad, as well as radar and artillery posts utilized by the army, following rockets from Syria into the Golan Heights on Saturday morning last week. Additionally, Israel carried out a drone strike against the rocket launchers used to attack Israel.
According to the Journal, Ghaani’s efforts to “unify Tehran’s allies” represent a “sharp escalation” in the covert war between Israel and Iran, whose prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons at any cost. Netanyahu has vehemently opposed the 2015 nuclear agreement and any attempts to revive it, and he has repeatedly stated that Israel could achieve this objective through military means.
Israel has also taken steps to stop Iran from encroaching on its northern borders with Syria and Lebanon in recent years. It has also launched numerous airstrikes to stop Iran from transferring advanced weapons to Hezbollah and other groups through Syria.
At least two IRGC military advisers were killed in strikes in Syria late last month that were claimed by Israel.
Israel’s military typically does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but it has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of sorties over the past decade against Iran-backed groups attempting to establish themselves in the country. Additionally, Syrian air defense systems have been the target of numerous Israeli airstrikes.
The Journal reports that at the end of March, Ghaani met with leaders of Palestinian terror groups in Syria “to discuss a possible coordinated attack on Israel” and told them that Iran had obtained information about alleged Israeli plans to attack Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Syria and Lebanon.
The Iranian general asked them to “make a move rapidly” and guaranteed that Iran “would give the essential instruments to do assaults to discourage Israel from making its own strikes,” as indicated by individuals acquainted with these gatherings.
In response to Israeli strikes that had killed Iranian advisers in Syria, Ghaani stated, “it was important to attack Israeli targets within days.”
According to the report, Ghaani was in Beirut for planning meetings with Hamas and Hezbollah four days prior to the launch of rockets from Lebanon into Israel.
Ghaani took over for Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed three years ago in a US missile attack in Baghdad with help from Israel.
Iran has promised to retaliate for his demise. As commander of the Quds Force, Soleimani was credited with assisting in the arming, training, and leadership of various armed groups in the region. These groups included the Shiite militias in Iraq, fighters in Syria and Yemen, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He was held liable by the United States for the deaths of numerous of its soldiers in Iraq.
According to the Journal, Ghaani’s strategy also represents “a growing threat to Israel — and a challenge for the US at a time when other powers such as China and Russia are attempting to play larger roles in the Middle East.” Despite being a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war and a commander who played a key role in recruiting Shiite militias to bolster Assad’s forces in Syria, Ghaani plays a “quieter, less visible” role than Solei
As evidence of Beijing’s growing influence, Iran and Saudi Arabia recently agreed to rekindle their seven-year-old relationship.
Riyadh would have been a significant addition to the 2020 Abraham Accords, which were mediated by the United States and normalized relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, a close ally of Saudi Arabia, and Morocco.