Palestinian terrorists are working hard to turn the West Bank into a launching pad for waging war on Israel. They have already turned the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into a base for firing tens of thousands of rockets towards Israel. Now, the terrorists, with the help of Iran, are trying to use the West Bank to launch rockets at Israeli civilian communities.
The US Administration's recent move to give Iran access to at least $16 billion, including $6 billion held in South Korea, as part of a prisoner exchange deal, will undoubtedly benefit Tehran's Palestinian terror proxies: Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The two terror groups, which seek the destruction of Israel, have long been receiving financial and military aid from Iran's mullahs.
Even worse, US Congressional oversight, required for any deal with Iran, was nullified this week when the Biden Administration, apparently to avoid oversight, announced its plans during Congress' summer recess. As reported by Richard Goldberg on August 15, in "The Disastrous Implications of the $6 Billion Hostage Deal: That it will encourage hostage diplomacy among our foes is the least of the problems":
"That the White House announced this deal during the August congressional recess was no coincidence. Emergency hearings cannot be held. Resolutions of disapproval cannot be fast-tracked. President Biden has successfully evaded the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which requires him to notify Congress of any agreement with Iran related to its nuclear program before lifting sanctions."
In the past three months, a group affiliated with the Iranian-backed Hamas terror movement fired at least six rockets towards Israeli communities from the Jenin area in the northern West Bank.
On August 15, the Israel Defense Forces tweeted:
"6 rockets in 3 months
"That is the number of failed rocket launch attempts carried out in the area of the Menashe Regional Brigade in the past 3 months, the most recent being a short while ago.
"We will continue operating to thwart any threats against Israeli civilians."
On July 27, the IDF announced:
"A rocket launch was carried out toward the Israeli community of Ram On.
"However, the rocket remnants were located adjacent to the Palestinian town of Silat al-Harithiya by security forces.
"This is a prime example of terrorists using new ways to threaten innocent Israeli civilians without a care for Palestinian lives."
The most recent rocket was fired towards Israel on August 15. The terror group behind the attacks is called Ayyash Battalion, named after Yahya Ayyash, a Hamas arch-terrorist who was behind a series of suicide bombings in Israel during the 1990s. The bombings he orchestrated killed about 90 Israelis, a great deal of whom were civilians. Ayyash is celebrated by many Palestinians, who have named streets and other locales in his honor.
The rockets launched from the Jenin area have so far caused no damage, and no one was hurt.
"Our mujahideen [warriors] were able to shell the settlement of Shaked, west of Jenin, with a Qassam 1 rocket in response to the occupation crimes against our people and to avenge the blood of our martyrs."
Last month, the same terror group said that "despite the complex and sensitive security conditions [in the West Bank], and the lack of capabilities and tools, the Ayyash Battalion continues to develop and prepare [for carrying out rocket attacks]." According to the group, "the preparation and development are continuing, and the next [phase] will be greater."
When the terrorists talk about the "complex and sensitive" situation, they are boasting that they were able to fire the rockets despite the presence of Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces in the West Bank. While the IDF says it is doing its utmost to combat terrorism in the West Bank, the PA security forces are evidently not doing much to rein in the terror groups operating in areas under their control.
Last month, Saleh Arouri, Deputy Chairman of the Hamas political bureau, boasted that his group was responsible for the rocket attacks from the West Bank:
"The state of resistance in the West Bank is developing, and [Israel] is panicking as it watches its development, as was the case in the Gaza Strip... The resistance fighters in the West Bank are using knives, pistols, and rifles, as well as explosive devices and rockets."
The rocket attacks are part of an increased attempt by Iran's Palestinian proxies, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), to establish themselves in the West Bank and set up a military infrastructure to conduct from there terror attacks and armed struggle against Israel, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI):
"[I]t is clear that the terror organizations are changing their methods of warfare and how they are conducting their armed struggle against Israel from the West Bank, and are attempting to duplicate in the West Bank the methods used to fight Israel in the Gaza Strip. To this end, they are operating in three ways:
"With ongoing efforts to arm the West Bank, including manufacturing weapons and advanced explosive devices
"By excavating tunnels and launching rockets
"By maintaining anti-Israel military cooperation among the terror organizations, following the example of the joint war room in the Gaza Strip."
The MEMRI report also noted that the armament efforts in the West Bank are energetically assisted by the Islamic Republic of Iran, on the orders of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei:
"Khamenei issued these orders a decade ago, and successive commanders of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have declared numerous times that they are implementing these orders. Hamas and PIJ leaders regularly thank Iran publicly for its military aid to their organizations, including inside the West Bank."
In June, leaders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad visited Tehran, where they discussed with Iranian officials ways of stepping up the "resistance" attacks against Israel, especially in the West Bank.
In an interview with the Qatar-owned Al-Jazeera TV, PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhaleh revealed that Iran has been providing the Palestinian terror groups with military aid:
"They also provide us with military expertise... I believe that most of the financial and military aid goes to Hamas. Hamas gets more than Palestinian Islamic Jihad, perhaps because they are bigger than us."
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has also praised Iran for providing his group with money and weapons. "I want to thank those who have given money and weapons to the brave resistance: the Islamic Republic of Iran," he said.
Judging from the statements of the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders, the Palestinian terrorists who are now firing rockets at Israeli communities from the West Bank could not have done so without the assistance of Iran. Hamas and PIJ do not recognize Israel's right to exist, period. The two groups are offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose outspoken objective is the establishment of a sovereign Islamic state that would replace Israel.
The Hamas Covenant states:
"The land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for further Muslim generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered. It, or any part of it, should not be given up."
The Hamas Covenant also openly states:
"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad [holy war]. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors." (Article 13)
Similarly, Palestinian Islamic Jihad wants to establish a sovereign, Islamic Palestinian state with the geographic borders of the pre-1948 mandate Palestine. Like Hamas, it advocates the destruction of Israel through violent means; it approaches the Arab-Israeli conflict as an ideological war, not a territorial dispute.
In a 2009 interview, former PIJ leader Ramadan Shalah said: "I will never, under any circumstances, accept the existence of the state of Israel."
The Palestinian terrorists who are firing rockets at Israel are not doing it because they want to drive Jews out of the West Bank. Instead, they are launching the rockets because they want to destroy Israel.
Those Americans and Europeans who are calling for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank are ignoring the threats by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to continue the fight until the elimination of Israel. The rockets that are being fired from the West Bank should serve as a loud alarm bell to all those who continue to talk about the so-called two-state solution.
The terrorists are able to fire rockets from the West Bank while the Israeli security forces are still there. It is not difficult to imagine what would happen if Israel pulled out of these territories. After the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the Palestinian terror groups fired tens of thousands of rockets into Israeli cities and towns. An Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would mean handing the area to the total control of Iran and its Palestinian terror proxies and turning it into yet another base for Jihad -- not only against Israel but the West.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.