“It is not only Israel’s war, it is Europe’s war and it would be nice to hear a European voice supporting Israel as it is supporting Ukraine,’’ said Amichai Chikli, Minister of Diaspora Affairs, during a briefing for European journalists.
‘’We need to be tougher against Iran and against its proxies like the Islamic Jihad (PIJ) which is not a Palestinian organization. It is an organization funded by Iran, its ideology is coming from Iran,’’ said Israeli Minister Amichai Chikli who called on Europe ‘’to really understand what these organisations are and the true nature of Iran’s tyrannic regime which hangs people in the streets just for demonstrating and that sends drones to kill civilians in Ukraine.’’
‘’It is the same Iran that incites Islamic Jihad to launch their missiles to innocent people in Sderot or Tel Aviv.’’
The minister spoke during an online briefing for European journalists organized Wednesday by the Europe Israel Press Association (EIPA) to discuss Israel’s war against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as more than 500 rockets were launched to the Israeli territory and days after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) eliminated three top commanders of the terrorist organization in ”Operation Shield and Arrow.”
“It is not only Israel’s war, it is Europe’s war and it would be nice to hear a European voice supporting Israel as it is supporting Ukraine,’’ he said.
‘’I am very satisfied with the results of the operation. The elimination of the 3 Islamic Jihad commanders of the Islamic Jihad is a very important step that will create deterrence and it sends a very clear message to the head of Hamas that if they will join and if they will open fire they will end the same way as the commanders of Islamic Jihad. Every activist that goes out from its shelter is being eliminated by our forces. All they know is to fire missiles on innocent civilians and we will make sure that they are going to stop for a long period of time,’’ the minister said.
During the briefing the situation in the region was explained by Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, the IDF’s international spokesperson and Prof. Kobi Michael, Middle East expert and Senior Researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv.
“Israel is under attack from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, possibly also from minor auxiliary terrorist groups. There have also been rumors about Hamas, but our intelligence confirmed that the attacks are being launched by Islamic Jihad,’’ the IDF spokesperson said ;
Lt. Col. Hecht explained that the operation was scheduled for Saturday the 6th instead of Monday the 8th, but was called off at the last minute because it could cause many innocent victims: “Each target on which we launch a bombing is the result of a complex process in which we check that it is indeed a military target and try to reduce the risks,” he said.
Calling the current round of hostilities in Gaza ” the same refrain yet another movement in an unfinished symphony,” Kobi Michael explained at the briefing that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is totally dependent on Iran. The terrorist group operates in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and rivals Hamas, the other major terrorist group in the region.
He stressed that ‘’Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a smaller terrorist organization compared to Hamas, but there are other major differences. Islamic Jihad is in every sense an Iranian proxy. It is totally dependent on Iran and cannot operate without Iranian support. Tehran funds the group and arms it heavily with contraband weapons through Lebanon, Syria, the Jordan Valley and the northern West Bank. This is why Palestinian Jihad has become a powerful and influential group, especially in the northern districts of the West Bank.’’
‘’Hamas is also a proxy of Iran, but is not as dependent on Tehran. Hamas can exist even without Iran’s help, even if it also benefits from it. Hamas is a complex group, not a monolithic entity,’’ he added.
‘’The agenda of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank differs,” explained Kobi Michael, who added that Hamas leaders pursue different objectives, including political ones, with the involvement of other actors in the region.
‘’Islamic Jihad represents radicalism in the most violent way possible,’’ he said.
“Their main objective is an all-out armed conflict with Israel with the support of Iran while Hamas is a much more complex and larger terrorist organization, a military force, but also a political and ideological actor against Fatah. Their strategy is to gain total control of the entire Palestinian system. Hamas poses an existential threat to the Palestinian Authority (Fatah),” he explained.
Kobi Michael does see a fairly near end to the escalation for several reasons: “The PIJ is reaching the limit of its capabilities and I think they will want to end it before their defeat becomes more évident.’’ Moreover, he believes that a short-term end “is in the interest of both Egypt and Israel.”
Even so, he warns that something else could also happen, “that the Palestinian response grows in intensity and this would force Israel to retaliate even more harshly, which in turn would force Hamas to intervene, which would lead to a completely different scenario”.
However, for the moment, according to Michael, those who could be benefiting from what is happening is precisely Hamas: “They are very happy with the attack on the PIJ, for them they are a continuous headache, obviously they will not say it but from now on militarily the PIJ will be weaker” and that will make things easier for the terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip.