The killing of the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force chief, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad, Iraq Friday morning was a severe blow to many of the Iranian-backed proxy groups in the region including Gaza’s militant groups.

What has their reaction been to losing one of chief supporters? Does all of Gaza’s people support the militant groups’ position regarding the death of Soleimani?

https://twitter.com/jtruzmah/status/1124773842017087488?s=21

In an al-Hadath report, a mourners tent was erected by members of the Joint Operations Room which comprises a majority of the militant factions in Gaza. A banner at the front of the tent displayed the face of Qasem Solemani and the inscription “Joint Operations Room. Mourning the martyr General Qasem Soleimani and his brothers.”

The reaction by Palestinian militant groups such as al-Qassam Brigades, Mujahideen Brigades, and Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, all which benefit from Iranian support, has mostly been by condolence messages in the form of martyr banners with the image of Soleimani.

However, one militant group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who has direct ties with Iran, was more vocal about the killing of Soleimani.

Abu Hamza, their spokesperson released a statement after the death of Soleimani.

The martyr Soleimani supervised, for two decades, the direct support to Palestine, and the transfer of security and military expertise to its fighters. Today, the Al-Quds Brigades bid farewell to a leader who has always spread terror in the heart of America and the Zionist entity, and affirms that the resistance will not be broken and will increase cohesion and strength in confronting the Zionist-American project. We mourn in the Al-Quds Brigades, a few of the heroes of the resistance who were martyred at dawn in Iraq, led by the Mujahid Commander Martyr General Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the Al-Quds Force in the Guards of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and the Deputy Chairman of the Popular Mobilization Unit in Iraq, the martyr Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Arabic text for joe

The message doesn’t deviate drastically from what other militant groups have published.

https://www.facebook.com/QudsN/posts/3062970573779823?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARCwoEvZu6j2VhL-1Yd0EByADdsiNvV8_Nz-V7WnD_p2J6rfecWaDanZQY3cp66zbJ2-GuGXaMIEfmqRlaW-v50my4jsTvixJ3l5qevCBtuGKNEwHdetOlYh-CaMPpI4qCgPiaT0XFZtROIXCXCS5G9WzYEbqBxIxeRbW0L6oEdK9obK0Vl7pCuqSX_77kazrUF-OAh7lQQpVSralivR-lKtzM4BhjJQivoH91ojqYoD7LHLvCha7rJ1_JFkRMNKeZYmqPekbjZhr6NNknJqAKbN83tY4u_CWWnIdOGT-SKBx9Ew9MfvJ-QcRPH4v6rFPRmcGE_8geiP_QyTTy5RScRljw&__tn__=-R

However, the interesting detail that wasn’t mentioned by other militant groups’ statements was that Soleimani supervised the direct support to Palestinian militant groups. It was widely known that Iran supported militant groups in Gaza, but it wasn’t made public by the groups that Soleimani was behind that support.

One of most notable examples of support Palestinian militant groups received from Iran was the Karine A affair in 2002.

A group of Palestinian Navy leaders were selected by Yasser Arafat to arm the people of Gaza in an effort to bolster its resistance against Israel. Fifty tones of weapons were loaded on a boat near Iran, it then rendezvoused with the Palestinian freighter Karine A, and transferred the weapons. The freighter made its journey towards a predetermined destination to transfer the weapons to Gaza.

A Palestinian, Ahmed Khreis, who was released from an Israeli prison over a year ago for his participation in the smuggling of the Iranian weapons, stated that Israeli intelligence caught wind of the transfer but had difficulty finding the ship until it received assistance from U.S. satellites located over the Red Sea. The freighter was eventually located, and in January 2002, it was raided by Israel’s Shayatet 13.

Lastly, Khreis mentioned the involvement of Hezbollah in the transfer of the weapons. The weapons were kept on an island near Iran and moved by a ship owned by Hezbollah before being transferred to the Karine A.

In another example of Iranian support for the Gaza factions, Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the military wing of Hamas, al-Qassam Brigades, publicly admitted that if it wasn’t for Iran’s support, they would not have their missile capabilities.

In 2008, we in the resistance factions only had several Grad missiles provided to us by the Islamic Republic of Iran in addition to some locally-made missiles and some mortar shells. The world was surprised when we shelled Beersheba with Grad missiles that have a range of over 40 kilometers.

[“From the mighty Gaza, rejoicing in the demise of the criminal Qasem Soleimani, the killer of our people in Syria and Iraq.”]

Soleimani was not loved and revered by all in Gaza. The morning after the death of Soleimani, sweets were passed out in Gaza celebrating his death. Palestinians have not forgotten what occurred in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus during the Syrian Civil war. The camp was starved by the Assad regime and its Iranian-backed militias loyal to Soleimani.

For the moment, Iran’s proxies in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Afghanistan and Gaza are biding their time awaiting instructions on how and when to retaliate against the U.S. and possibly its allies. The attacks could start as soon as the Iranian declared three day mourning period is over on Sunday.

When and where the attack(s) will happen is uncertain but I do expect for the Iranians and their proxy groups to make good on their promise for revenge.

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Joe Truzman reports on security focused on #Israel and militant groups in #Gaza. He is author of the @GroundBrief newsletter covering the Middle East.

 
 
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