THE Iranian regime is intent on establishing a new battlefield in the West Bank in its push to distract from troubles at home and accelerate its holy jihadist war against Israel. Last autumn, Hossein Salami, Chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, stated that arming the West Bank in the same way as Gaza was a priority.
Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon and Syria, regularly smuggles weapons from Libya to Gaza. Now under fresh orders from its masters in Tehran, it is sending guns and missiles worth millions of pounds from its fiefdom in Lebanon directly to the West Bank.
Both Palestinian territories are being ripped apart by in-fighting between Iranian-backed Islamists and by their prolonged war against Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), has repeatedly cancelled elections, fearful of losing to Hamas. More than two-thirds of Palestinians, fed up with the PA’s corruption and suspected embezzlement of foreign funds, want him to resign. Young Palestinian men now eschew Abbas’s old guard for nascent Islamic extremist groups. Several new groups have formed in the past year alone, accelerating the violence and lawlessness in the West Bank.
Prominent militant organisations including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Fatah’s military wing, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, have either created or pledged support to fledgling extremist groups such as The Lions’ Den (TLD) responsible for repeated attacks against Israel. Suspected of affiliation to al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, TLD symbolises a new guard of Islamists jostling for top position in an increasing power vacuum in the West Bank, exacerbated by the waning influence of the unpopular Abbas. They feel threatened by Benjamin Netanyahu’s new hawk-like government, using armed rallies as a warning sign to Israel.
Impatient members of the Fatah-dominated PA are eager to toss Abbas aside, viewing the PA president as an impediment to scaling up their blood-soaked jihadist war against the Jewish state. Together with the new Islamist militants, PA security forces are accelerating their attacks against Israel Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers and Israeli civilians.
Adding to the carnage, Hamas has placed operatives inside the West Bank to finance and train Palestinian militants, with the goal of launching further assaults against the Jewish state. In September, the IDF arrested two Islamists in the West Bank who, under orders from Hamas, shot at a synagogue in Carmel, injuring a 17-year-old boy.
Both the PA and Hamas have a chequered history with Iran. The Syrian war briefly jaundiced the relationship between Hamas and Iran, as the former supported the Sunni Arab opposition and the latter the Assad regime, part of the Alawite minority. But after that temporary blip in their unholy relationship, Iran upped its annual payment to Hamas. As well as arming the Islamist group, Iran regularly sends it approximately $130million each year. In exchange, Hamas wages jihad on the Jewish state and provides Iran with intelligence on Israel missile stockpiles.
PIJ is another Iranian-backed player in Gaza, a frenemy to Hamas and a growing presence on the West Bank. Fond of using women as suicide bombers and training children as young as six to use AK-47s, PIJ now uses the West Bank as a base to construct explosives for barrages against the IDF. It claimed responsibility a year ago for murdering a Yeshiva student, and injuring several other Israeli civilians in nearby Homesh.
Yasser Arafat sought support from the Ayatollah Khomeini just prior to the fall of the pro-Israel Shah, establishing a financial and ideological connection which has lasted for decades. Iran’s backing of the PA has faltered at times. Unnerved by Iran’s financing of Hamas and PIJ, the PA has aligned itself with Iranian opposition such as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).
Despite these quarrels, Iran continues to support the PA and Hamas. Their collective hatred of the Jewish state certainly overcomes any bitter religious or political rivalry, a fact that Khomeini recognised and capitalised on. His successors have eagerly picked up his mantle.
The war against Israel is a religious one for the mullahs of Tehran. For their theological mission to establish a global caliphate to succeed, Israel must fall. Iran’s colonisation of Gaza, and now the West Bank, takes them one step closer to this goal. Emboldened by a depleted and dying West, Iran shows no sign of faltering. That the West turns away from the Islamist slaughter of Christians across Africa is another sign to the theocracy that it can wage its jihad unhindered.
Although sanctions are applied to Iran, China ignores them, the EU circumvents them and they certainly haven’t affected Hezbollah’s drug-trafficking enterprises.
Nor is there any shortage of Western useful idiots to do Iran’s bidding in destabilising the Jewish state.
Israel is the front-line defence against Islamist terror. Given Iran’s unholy crusade, Hezbollah’s penchant for intentional terrorism and the perilous state of our world, it is imperative that Israel succeeds in holding back this new form of Iranian aggression in the West Bank. Otherwise what’s left of our Western civilisation will disintegrate in a black hole of never-ending war.