Iran is driving the escalation of violence against Israel from the Gaza Strip, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned, saying that the Islamic Jihad terror organization “has an open tab in Iran.”
Gantz hosted his Cypriot counterpart Minister of Defense Charalambos Petrides on Thursday in Tel Aviv and the two discussed “common challenges and reflected on the implications” of the IDF’s Operation Breaking Dawn against the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip over the weekend.
During a press conference held together with Petrides, Gantz said that “while the world watched ‘another escalation between Israel and Gaza,’ I stopped to emphasize: the Iranian Ayatollahs are involved in this front. Islamic Jihad in Gaza is a violent Iranian proxy. Their leadership visits Iran and meets Iranian leaders frequently.”
Islamic Jihad head Ziyad al-Nakhalah was in Tehran over the weekend, as the members of his terror organization launched about 1,100 rockets into Israeli cities and towns, including toward Tel Aviv and the Jerusalem area, over the course of 55 hours.
The Islamic Jihad “has an open tab in Iran. Iran provides Islamic Jihad in Gaza with tens of millions of dollars per year. Iran, via the IRGC [Revolutionary Guards], transfers know-how and attempts to smuggle materials to Gaza, which are then used to build weapons aimed at civilians,” Gantz underscored.
The Islamic Jihad enjoys extensive material backing from Iran in their arming efforts, which has provided millions of dollars in funding, as well as training and weapons. Israeli intelligence sources are quoted as saying that Islamic Jihad has an annual budget of $70 million, most of which is provided by Iran in payments made via money changers and supposed welfare organizations.
After the ceasefire commenced on Sunday night, and “while quiet in the area was restored, we cannot rest. On the operational level – the State of Israel will maintain its freedom of action in all arenas. As I have said in the past, our eyes and targets focus on anyone who threatens the security of our citizens – from Khan Yunis to Tehran,” he stated ominously.
“On the strategic level, Israel will continue to work with our partners in facing Iranian aggression, which harms security and stability everywhere – from the Israel-Gaza border, to the Mediterranean Sea, to the Gulf and beyond,” he said.