Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei hosted Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah in Tehran on Wednesday.
The meeting came as Iran tightens its coordination of proxy terror groups, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Hamas and Hezbollah. Known as the “Jerusalem Axis,” this alliance of terror groups is Iran’s counterweight to the Abraham accords.
During the meeting, Khamenei said that Israel had become “passive” and its leaders “have reason to worry about not seeing the country’s 80th anniversary,” according to Iranian state media.
Israel recently marked its 75th birthday.
Israel on May 9 launched “Operation Shield and Arrow” with the targeted killing of three senior PIJ members in Gaza, in response to rocket fire from the Strip.
During the five-day conflict, PIJ launched some 1,500 rockets at Israeli civilian centers, to which the Israel Defense Forces responded by striking some 400 terror targets in Gaza.
“I congratulate Islamic Jihad’s victory in Gaza’s recent battle. The Zionist regime’s current condition is very different from 70 years ago, and this enemy is in a passive position,” said Khamenei.
“Palestine’s resistance movements have correctly identified the path and are proceeding wisely on it,” he added.
The Iranian leader said that the “growing power” of “Palestinian” groups was “the key to bringing the Zionist enemy to its knees.”
PIJ is an Iranian proxy whose terrorist activities also span Judea and Samaria, particularly in Jenin and Nablus.
Nakhalah, who has led PIJ since 2018, is said to be living in either Lebanon or Syria.
Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) chief Ronen Bar last month revealed that Israel had recently broken up a terror cell near Jenin that was in the process of producing rockets intended to be fired at Israeli targets from Samaria.
A recent video broadcast by PA media showed the firing of a Qassam-type rocket in the Jenin area, apparently an experiment by the same squad. Security sources in Israel say that PIJ operatives in Jenin and Nablus are also trying to weaponize civilian drones, with the backing of Iran.
To advance these efforts, al-Nakhalah traveled to Tehran in August 2022, where he met with Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, to receive funding and coordinate the smuggling of weapons into Judea and Samaria through Jordan.
The establishment of rocket cells in Judea and Samaria is another step toward implementing former IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani’s strategy of surrounding Israel with hundreds of thousands of rockets, missiles and drones.
The Jenin rocket squad was directed by senior PIJ leader Tarek az-Aldin, who was killed by an IDF strike on May 9.
A senior Israeli political source recently said that Iran was disappointed by PIJ’s performance during “Operation Shield and Arrow” and was therefore plotting to strike at Israelis overseas.