July 22, 2021 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1588

Destruction Of Israel By The Sword Or By Referendum – Part II: Senior Iranian Regime Officials Link Iran To The May 2021 Gaza Conflict, Urge Hamas And Palestinian Islamic Jihad To Continue Their Fight Against Israel

July 22, 2021 | By A. Savyon and M. Manzour*
Iran, Palestinians | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1588


During the May 2021 Gaza-Israel conflict, Iranian regime spokesmen praised Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) for the thousands of rockets they fired into Israel and for their loyalty to the Iranian vision of the destruction of Israel. Two of these officials – Defense Minister Amir Hatami and IRGC Qods Force commander Esmail Qaani – even linked the Iranian regime directly to the firing of the rockets. Others made many statements about the Iranian regime's military and economic aid to Hamas and PIJ, often underlining the personal role played by the late IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani in providing rockets to Gaza and information on manufacturing them to Hamas and PIJ.

Leaders of the Palestinian resistance factions expressed thanks to senior Iranian regime officials for the aid and guidance they had provided in recent years and particularly just now.[1] The Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan, on June 8, even officially labelled the Palestinian organizations as members of the Iranian resistance axis – meaning that they heed and are operated by Tehran for the latter's purposes.

This part, Part II, of the series on the Iranian regime's mobilization to encourage the Palestinians in the armed struggle against Israel with the aim of destroying it, will focus on the Iranian regime's connection to the rockets fired into Israel from Gaza by Hamas and PIJ, members of the resistance axis during the May 2021 conflict, and on the Iranian regime's commitment to supplying the Palestinians in their armed struggle against Israel, with the goal of Israel's elimination. (Read Part I here).

Senior Iranian Officials Link The Iranian Regime To The Gaza Conflict

Iranian Defense Minister Hatami: "The Palestinian Fighters' Resistance...  Made It Clear To The Enemy That... The Tree Of Zionism Is Indeed Rotten"

In his speech at the May 23, 2021 opening ceremony of the Exhibition of the Defense Ministry's Progress and Achievements in Land Warfare, Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami linked Hamas's firing of rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with the Iranian regime's response to what he referred to as Israel's policy of targeted assassinations. The ceremony was attended also by Majlis speaker Mohammad Baqr Qalibaf. Hatami said:

"... The martyrdom of Hajj Qassem [Soleimani] conveyed the message that we are seeking security for everyone, although our enemies attempt to smear this by referring to it as 'regional influence.' The most recent example of this was the Palestinian fighters' resistance and warfare against the Zionist enemy, which taught the enemy a great lesson and made it clear to it that instead of poking its nose into other's affairs and assassinating [Iranian elements] such as [Iranian nuclear chief Mohsen] Fakhrizadeh, they should mind their own business, [and realize] that the rotten tree of Zionism is indeed rotten, and that, as this war demonstrated, this tree will soon fall..."[2]

Iranian Defense Minister Hatami. Source: ISNA, May 25, 2021.

Qods Force Commander Qaani: "In The First Three Days Of The Palestinians' Battle Against The Zionist Regime, We Fired Many Missiles Into The Occupied Territories"

Notably, Qods Force commander Esmail Qaani took credit for the Palestinian fighting against Israel, with his statements at a ceremony in memory of his deputy Gen. Mohammad Hosseinzadeh Hejazi, who had died about a month previously under suspicious circumstances. In an unusual statement that made it clear that Hamas's military wing is a proxy of Iran, and that Iran was involved in its firing of rockets. Qaani said:

"In the first three days of the Palestinians' battle against the Zionist regime, we fired many missiles into the occupied territories, like in the [Gaza 2008] 22-day war. This [firing of the rockets] is the responsibility of the resistance front, and [this] is what the leader [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] meant when he said 'Hajj Qassem [Soleimani] filled the hands of these children [of the resistance with weapons].' These full hands made themselves known in the [Gaza 2021] 12-day war."[3]

Regime Mouthpiece Kayhan: "The Palestinian Resistance Has Officially Announced That Palestine Is Part Of The Resistance Axis"

In its June 8, 2021 editorial, the regime mouthpiece Kayhan celebrated the news that Hamas and PIJ had joined the resistance axis: ".... The Palestinian resistance has officially announced that Palestine is part of the resistance axis. [This announcement came] during the [Gaza 2021] war, even though it [Gaza] was being heavily bombed by the Zionist regime... This event is no less important than victory over the Zionist army, because it shows the atmosphere of public opinion among the Palestinians and their despair at the compromising Arab axis, and [this situation] is considered very dangerous for the Zionists. On the other hand, [this announcement] announced the commitment on the part of the rest of the members of the resistance axis to provide operational and military support to the Palestinian resistance, and attested to a new situation to the detriment of the Israeli regime...

"During his brief tenure [as Qods Force commander], Qaani has handled this complex situation well, with an accurate grasp of the conditions in the region and its nuances, and in implementing the important experience accumulated during [the Soleimani] era, and has achieved great victories...

"It must be said that the Yemenite and Palestinian resistance factions' announcement in the past month that they have joined the resistance front constitutes a very important event that must not be disregarded. It shows us both a new point of view and a new capability for the resistance front."[4]

Supreme Leader Khamenei's Blessing For The Palestinian Resistance's Victory Over Israel

On May 25, 2021, Supreme Leader Khamenei published on his website a poster of blessings on the occasion of "the Palestinian resistance's victory in the 12-day war [in May 2021] over Israel." The poster featured several high points of the battle, with an emphasis on the future.

The poster read:

  • Top: "The United And Resisting Palestine"

  • Starting from top of right column: "The uniqueness of the 12-day war – The Jerusalem and West Bank [residents'] cooperation with the residents of Gaza and the lands occupied since 1948, and the refugee camps.

  • "The enemy's operation – Carrying out great crimes, particularly in Gaza. Humiliating and insane behavior.

  • "The result of the enemy's crimes – Creation of an anti-Zionist public atmosphere. The Zionists and the Western countries supporting them, particularly the criminal America, [have become] more isolated.

  • "The achievements of the resistance – The barbaric enemy's inability in light of the united resistance of Palestine. The defeat of the Zionists, whether they continue their crimes or ask for a ceasefire. The enemy is forced to accept defeat.

  • Starting from top of left column: "The strategy of the resistance – The young Palestinian people's preparedness. The valuable jihadi groups' show of strength. Preparedness and constantly growing strength. Preparedness and constant forceful presence [in the arena]. The resistance attempt by the Sheikh Jarrah residents [in Jerusalem] is an order for the zealous residents of Palestine [to act].

  • "The Muslim governments' religious duty – Sincere support for Palestine: Rebuilding Gaza, military strengthening, financial support.

  • "The future situation – The strengthening of Palestine and the weakening of Zionism.

  • "The duty of the Muslim nations – To demand that their governments support Palestine. As much financial and political support as possible.

  • "The issue of punishing the criminals – Not to leave the perpetrators of the crime unpunished. The relevant organizations must prosecute the perpetrators of this crime, [including then-Israeli prime minister] Netanyahu."[5]

Supreme Leader Khamenei And Qods Force Commander Qaani On The Alliance Between Iran And The Palestinian Resistance Organizations: The Role Of IRGC Qods Force Commander Soleimani

In their statements, senior regime officials expressed pride in the central role played by Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani in arming the Palestinian organizations in Gaza, and in his direct relationship with them.

Khamenei: "Our Hearts Are Present In The Arena Of Your Fighting, And Our Prayers Are For Your Continued And Constant Victories"

On May 24, Khamenei published his response to thanks expressed by the leaders of Hamas and PIJ to Khamenei in letters. To Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya, Khamenei wrote: "Your struggle is the resistance to the oppression, the betrayal, and the arrogance, and God is pleased with this struggle... With God's help, you will triumph, and you will purge [this] holy land of the plunderers' filth."

Haniya and Khamenei (Source:, January 9, 2020)

To PIJ leader Ziyad Nakhala, he wrote: "The great and triumphant jihad of you Palestinian brothers brought light to the eyes of those who love you worldwide. Our hearts are present in the arena of your fighting, and our prayers are for your continued and constant victories. God's promise is true... and you will see the final victory, with God's help."[6]

Qods Force Commander Qaani: "I Would Like To Emphasize The Alliance That Was Formed With You By The Martyr And Top Commander Hajj Qassem Soleimani"; "We [Iranians] Will Remain With You [Palestinians] And We Will Never Rest And Never Stop Until The Plundering Oppressing [Zionist] Regime Is Destroyed"

Qods Force commander Qaani pointed out the direct connection between the Iranian regime and Muhammad Deif, commander of Hamas's military wing, and Abu Muhammad Akram, commander of the PIJ's military wing, in letters of appreciation to them during the fighting and before the ceasefire. Addressing Deif as "Living Martyr," Qaani stressed Iran's alliance with Hamas and PIJ, and underlined Iran's ongoing commitment to supplying the organizations with everything they need to destroy Israel, as had been done by Qassem Soleimani. The letters also revealed the Iranian regime's close mentoring and high-level involvement in Gaza. The following are highlights of Qaani's letters to Deif and Akram (see the full text of the letters in the Appendix):

Qods Force commander Qaani (Source: ISNA, Iran, May 29, 2021)

To Deif: "...We are following, moment by moment, the details of the Sword of Jerusalem battle – the battle in which you are engaged on behalf of the [Islamic] ummah and in defense of the honor and sanctity of the Islamic ummah with the battalions, platoons, and brigades of the resistance...  I would like to emphasize the alliance that was formed with you by the martyr and top commander Hajj Qassem Soleimani. This agreement is based on [the principle of] 'however great the pressure and sanctions, we are never leaving Palestine on her own'... We are with you and we adhere to our alliance with the martyr of Jerusalem, the supreme commander, Hajj Qassem Soleimani... Our eternal pact with God is that 'we [Iranians] will remain with you [Palestinians] and we will never rest and never stop until the plundering oppressing [Zionist] regime is destroyed and vanishes from the face of the earth and until all the land of Palestine is liberated..."

To Akram: "... We are with you in the resistance axis in spirit and body, and with all the strength and means that God has given us – the axis that is in effect the axis of Jerusalem whose capabilities have grown and expanded in recent years. We will never give up – not on the aid [to you] and not on [achieving] victory, until the annihilation and destruction of this plundering regime, no matter how the challenges and dangers grow and strengthen... The Leader [Khamenei] stressed in his recent speech for International Qods Day that 'the fight against this criminal and blood-soaked regime is a struggle against oppression and terror, and it is your responsibility.' Again I send blessings to you and to each and every member of the steadfast people of Palestine and to all the fighters on the Palestinian land. I kiss your fighters' hands, through which God fires upon His enemy – these are the hands that bring victory."[7]

MEMRI TV Clip Of Ahmad Abdelhadi, Hamas Representative In Lebanon: "Qassem Soleimani Travelled To Gaza Many Times" 

The IRGC Telegram channel posted, on May 23, a clip of Ahmad Abdelhadi, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, in which he stated that Soleimani was one of the planners of the Gaza tunnels and had "traveled to Gaza many times." The clip was originally released January 10, 2020.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click here or below

Iranian TV Video: Soleimani's Mission – Liberating Jerusalem From The Zionist Occupation

On May 7, 2021, on Qods Day, several days before Hamas's rocket attack on Israel began, an animated video titled "Peace to Jerusalem" was aired on Iran's Khorasan Shomali TV channel. The video showed a fictionalized depiction of the killing of Qods Force commander Soleimani, in which he is heard saying that "the victory over the plunderers of humanity" is near and that the "tree of resistance" has sent branches to every corner of the world. He adds "Now, I can peacefully and calmly achieve what I desired all my life" and asks to be accepted as a martyr. Next, the video showed a fictionalized depiction of the attack on U.S. forces at Ayn Al-Asad air base in Iraq. It then depicts the next target of the Iran-backed militias – in this case, the missiles launched by the Palestinians against Israel, to liberate Jerusalem.


To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click here or below

Qods Force Commander Qaani: The Fighting In Gaza Is "Only Part Of The Service To The Resistance Front Performed By Our Superlative Martyrs Soleimani And Hejazi... The Resistance's Message To The Palestinian Children Is That Their Plans Must Be To Administer All Of Palestine"

In late May, at a Basij ceremony marking 40 days since the death of Qods Force deputy commander Mohammad Hosseinzadeh Hejazi, Qods Force commander Qaani stressed the Iranian regime's pride in the weapons his predecessor Soleimani and his deputy Hejazi had given Hamas and PIJ, and this aid's manifestation in the firing of rockets from Gaza into central Israel. Qaani said:

"Hejazi was one of those in the company of Haj Qassem [Soleimani] who invested many efforts in filling the hands of the resistance [with weapons], and the symbol of this is the services provided by Soleimani. During such a time, the Palestinians' bold resistance against the Zionist regime is seen. Not 40 days have passed [since the death of] this great martyr [Hejazi], and a scene is being created [i.e. the May 2021 Gaza conflict] and the Islamic world and all peace-seeking people in the world are proud of the resistance that is taking place on the land of Palestine. These are only part of the service to the resistance front performed by our superlative martyrs Soleimani and Hejazi.

"The leader [Khamenei] said: 'The martyr Soleimani filled the hands of these children of the resistance' and we have seen how Gaza defends the entire land of Palestine, even though it has been under sanctions for 15 years.

"In the first three days of the Palestinians' battle against the Zionist regime, we fired many missiles into the occupied territories, like in the [Gaza 2008] 22-day war. This [firing the rockets] is the responsibility of the resistance front, and [this] is what the leader [Khamenei] meant when he said 'Hajj Qassem [Soleimani] filled the hands of these children [of the resistance with weapons].' These full hands made themselves known in the [Gaza 2021] 12-day war."

"The Palestinian resistance operated such that from the first day [of its battle against Israel], the Zionist regime begged the mediating countries to contact [the Palestinian resistance] and press for the Palestinian children to stop the war, and these heroic children set out their terms [for a ceasefire] and they were willing to stop the fighting if [Israel] was willing to accept the conditions, and did not back down in the war until they had forced these conditions on the Zionists.

"Perhaps this interests you because these words were not reported in the media. The heaviest bullets of the Palestinian resistance were the most recent ones [apparently a reference to the rockets fired at the end of the fighting] aimed at the occupied territories [i.e. all of Israel], and this is a sign of the strength, the might, and the correct definition of the resistance.

"As someone who was present alongside the children of the resistance, and who saw and knew their spirit, I must say that the time when the Zionist regime wanted to defeat the Palestinian children with weapons, bullets, and handguns has passed. Today, these children are manufacturing in the occupied territories all the mighty means that they used in the 12-day war. 

"Over 3,000 of the rockets launched by the resistance against the occupied territories were manufactured in that very geographic area. From this day forward, the message of resistance to the Palestinian children is that you must plan to administer all of Palestine, and that the Zionist regime should think ahead to a time when it no longer controls this land. My advice to all Zionists is to go buy back the homes in Europe, America, and other places that you left before you came to the land of Palestine, before they cost more than they do today.

"The Zionist regime must think of the day it leaves this land in disgrace, while our brothers in Palestine should plan that day and act tactically. The Palestinians refrained from targeting much of the infrastructure [of Israel], although they could have during this 12-day war, because it will not be long before they [the people of the resistance, the Palestinians] will be using it.

"This 12-day war proved that the courageous Palestinians must think about controlling all of their land [Palestine], and that henceforth the Zionist regime should think about leaving this land. This is the divine promise, and the promise of the leader [Khamenei], and it is achievable. It was Hejazi who gave his life so that this divine promise would be fulfilled."[8]

Iranian Presidential Center for Palestine Studies Director Saifullah Ramazan-Khani: "The Missiles And Weapons [That] Reached The Gaza Strip Through Soleimani's Efforts And Strategic Guidance" Have Opened "The Path To Bombing Tel Aviv"; "Hamas Has Not Yet Unveiled Its New Weapon – A Deadly Missile With A Heavy Warhead That Can Penetrate Concrete Slabs"

Saifullah Ramazan-Khani, a senior figure in the Iranian presidential establishment and head of the Presidential Center for Palestine Studies, stressed in an interview during the Gaza-Israel fighting, on May 18, that Soleimani had equipped the Palestinian resistance factions with missiles that it was now firing into Israel's heartland. He added that Hamas had "missiles with warheads capable of penetrating concrete which have not yet been used. The following are the main points of his statements:

"Now, shortly before the end of Netanyahu's term as [Israel's] prime minister, we see that this same Hamas has caused the evacuation of the Knesset, stopped the [Israeli Jerusalem Day] marches, and, by launching its rockets at Jerusalem, prevented the establishment of the [next] government in the occupied territories [i.e. Israel].

"In recent days, in this round of hostilities, the resistance has successfully achieved great accomplishments as part of the balance of deterrence with the occupying regime. This confused the occupiers and forced them to hastily attack civilian centers and areas.

"Palestine and the regime occupying [Jerusalem] are now in the throes of real war, and the gates of Hell have opened before the enemies of Palestine. The armed wing of the resistance, including the missile units, arrived on the scene and displayed one of the biggest missile attacks on the Zionist regime. These missiles and weapons reached the Gaza Strip through Soleimani's efforts and strategic guidance. With these missiles, the path to bomb Tel Aviv has opened.

"The results on the ground show that the intensification of the [Israeli] occupiers' bombing [of Gaza] has not succeeded in influencing the burning strength of Hamas, and difficult and dangerous days are in store for the Zionist regime. What has become clear in recent days is that the Israelis are about to flee and are under siege.

"The Palestinian resistance groups have shown that it is vital for there to be not only a great number of precision missiles, but also the will and courage to aim them into the heartland and infrastructure [of the enemy].

"The attacks on the oil and gas pipelines from Eilat, at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, to Ashkelon in the Mediterranean, that were one of the plans for normalization between Israel and the Arab governments in the Persian Gulf under the Abraham compromise agreement, were very important, and they [the attacks] were carried out using a Qassam rocket. [This] means the collapse of the projects to export natural gas and oil through this pipeline, instead of through the Strait of Hormuz and Bab Al-Mandeb, and of the creation of an alternative to the Suez Canal.

"The missiles of the resistance that were fired from Gaza have brought down the Deal of the Century and the toxic Abraham Compromise Accords, creating a new Middle East whose outcome will be revealed in the coming months and years. At the same time, Hamas has not yet unveiled its new weapon – a deadly missile with a heavy warhead that can penetrate concrete slabs. The resistance forces will soon knock the army of this evil regime off balance. If the clashes intensify and become more violent, both sides will step up the intensity of their attacks. Therefore, Hamas will fire more missiles.

"The reason for this [Israel's desire for a ceasefire] stems from the surprises of the missiles of the resistance, as well as from the domestic front of the [Zionist] regime and the civil war [in it] that stems from the popular Palestinian intifada in various regions [of Israel] and their [i.e. Israeli Arabs'] taking to the streets in solidarity with the residents of Jerusalem and the resistance groups in Gaza.

"The greatest achievement of the Al-Aqsa Intifada and the solidarity of the missiles with it... is the beginning of the collapse of the Zionist dream. The Zionist project is breathing its last, and the only path left for the occupiers and their supporters is to flee."[9]

Khamenei's Advisor Velayati To Hamas Political Bureau Head Haniya: "You Are A Clear Example Of Jihad In The Current Age"

Ali Akbar Velayati, international affairs advisor to Khamenei and secretary of the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening, said in a May 15 phone conversation with Hamas political bureau head Ismail Haniya: "The honorable people in Palestine has resisted the crimes of the plundering Zionist regime for over a quarter of a century, fought these crimes, given martyrs, and shown that it holds the flag of the Islamic awakening. Years before the victory of the Islamic Revolution [in Iran], in addition to the attempt to liberate the Iranian nation, the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini also attempted to liberate Palestine, designating the last Friday of the month of Ramadan as International Qods [Jerusalem] Day.

"Khamenei continued on this path, with the same assertiveness and seriousness, and always stressed Iran's full support for the Palestinian people as the most important issue in the Islamic world. In the past 40 years, Iran has never hesitated for a moment on this divine path, and continued its support for Palestine.

"With God's help, victory will be achieved soon, and you [Haniya] are a clear example of jihad in the current age. The honorable people in Palestine has shown that it is always at the front of the liberation movement in the Islamic world, under your flag."

Velayati and Haniya (Source: ISNA, Iran, May 17, 2021)

In response, Haniya expressed his thanks to Iran for its support, sent regards to Khamenei, and stressed that "Iran is one of the leading countries in supporting the Palestinian cause and Jerusalem. With God's help, we are at the first front of the Islamic ummah defending Jerusalem, Islamic values, and Palestine. In our view, what is happening in Palestine is one of the links in the chain of the unending dispute that is itself an advanced link in the liberation of Palestine, and now there is a wide-ranging battle called 'the battle of and for Jerusalem.'  

"The resistance is the symbol of heroism and sanctity, and each of these – sanctity and heroism – serves the other. The Palestinian people is united everywhere, and this struggle continues to support Al-Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem with the unity of all the Palestinians. We believe that what is happening is a great change and, based on this, we must build our plan and use it in order to carry out a great event. It is our God-given duty to cause Islam and the Muslims to triumph, both in Palestine and in Iran."[10]

Velayati To PIJ Secretary-General Nakhala: "Iran Has Played Its Part In The Past And Will Continue To Do So, Under The Guidance Of The Leader"; " Soon We Will Pray In Jerusalem With Him [Khamenei] Leading" The Prayers

Velayati told PIJ secretary-general Ziyad Nakhala in a phone conversation: "Iran's citizens and supporters of Palestine across the world see the courage of your hearts and your heroism, and the breaking of the hegemony of the plundering Zionist regime, which is a source of honor. The [jihad] fighters and the Palestinian people have again proven that the Zionist regime is [as weak as] a spider's web, and we welcome the victories... with all our hearts.

"Iran has played its part in the past and will continue to do so, under the guidance of the Leader and with comprehensive support, and with God's help, soon we will pray in Jerusalem with him [Khamenei] leading [the prayers].

"Instead of helping the Palestinian people uproot this satanic phenomenon [Israel], and liberating Palestine and Jerusalem, some of the senior officials identified with the West, and some from the Islamic countries, have forgotten their obligation under the pressure of the Zionists and their oppressing supporters like America. They must learn from current events and must uphold the ideals of their nations in supporting Palestine and Jerusalem.

"We are filled with hope regarding the future, and we believe that the divine promise will absolutely come true and the world will see the liberation of all the Palestinian lands and the [Palestinian] people's return to their homes, and dear Jerusalem and all the occupied Palestinian lands will be liberated.

"The World Assembly of Islamic Awakening continues its full support of the Palestinian people and the struggle against the plundering Zionists, and will spare no effort to liberate all the lands of Palestine."

Nakhala replied to Velayati: "The Palestinian people has today achieved a great victory. We have succeeded in putting the plundering Zionist regime, that frightens everyone, in its place, and to force it into the shelters, despite all the threats, provocations, and full years of siege.

Velayati and Nakhala (Source: ISNA, Iran, May 16, 2021)

"The resistance has achieved a great victory. We have succeeded in standing against this regime and defeating the Zionist-American project, to the point where despite the hegemony, it [the Zionist regime] has asked us for a ceasefire. But we have not accepted this, and have set conditions [for the ceasefire] according to which the Zionist regime must stop attacking Al-Aqsa mosque and allow the people of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to return to their homes.

"We will defend Al-Aqsa mosque with all our might. We stand fast with the blood of our children and we will break Israel's hegemony."

Nakhala expressed his thanks for Khamenei's support for the Palestinian issue, and added: "No one has taken such a stand as Iran has, and we will continue to resist and to defend Al-Aqsa until the final victory."[11]

International Affairs Expert Masoud Asadollahi In Interview With Khamenei's Website: "Since [Qassem] Soleimani Was Appointed [IRGC] Qods Force Commander, A Very Clear, Precise, And Consistent Strategy Was Launched... For Strengthening The Palestinian Groups"; "In Order To Strengthen And Arm The West Bank... There Is A Need To Support The Streams Within Fatah And The PLO That Have Been Disappointed By The Reconciliation Process"

In a May 23, 2021 interview with the website of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Iranian international affairs expert Masoud Asadollahi spoke about Iran's strategy for strengthening the Palestinian resistance in Gaza in recent years and clarified that the Iranian regime was now acting to arm the West Bank in order to carry out Khamenei's orders. The following are the main points of his statements:

Q: "What role did Iran play in strengthening the resistance streams and in thwarting the situation in the resistance's favor?

Asadollahi: "This issue is hidden from no one. In the past three decades, particularly since [Qassem] Soleimani was appointed [IRGC] Qods Force commander, a very clear, precise, and consistent strategy was launched for strengthening the Palestinian groups that were willing to seriously oppose the Zionist regime, and this [strategy] continues.

"According to this strategy, the Islamic Republic [of Iran] does not consider the intellectual nature of these groups to be important. [This strategy] supported [all the groups], whether they are Islamic, Arab nationalist, or leftist. The important thing is that they reject the Israeli occupation and never despair, and that they try to remain loyal to the resistance and to elevate its level day by day.

"We see now the results of these years-long efforts by Soleimani, who commanded the Qods Force. The world recognizes this. Day and night, [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu's statements focus on Iran. There is a debate amongst the Zionists about the danger of Iran, whether it is direct from Iran itself or against the Zionists in the form of [Iranian] support to the resistance movements – or whether it is now a part of the IRGC presence in Syria that has become a nightmare for the Zionist regime.

Masoud Asadollahi (Source: Khamenei's website, May 23, 2021)

"Netanyahu is trying with all his might to end this [IRGC] presence [in Syria], but he will not succeed at all. He himself points out that the experience of the establishment of Hizbullah in Lebanon and its becoming a regional player is being repeated in Syria. Therefore, he says that he will not allow this experience to recur in Syria and to have results [there too].

"Fortunately, no one is asking his permission, and he cannot prevent change in Syria. Furthermore, our resistance groups are now witnessing the creation of a new resistance in the region, and it will absolutely set down roots. Those who doubt the strategy of the Iranian presence in Syria must reconsider [their view] and see how worried the Zionists, and particularly Netanyahu himself, are about this sensitive presence."

Q: "What is the situation of the resistance in the West Bank at the moment? What can be done to strengthen and arm the West Bank?

Asadollahi: "In the general resistance movement, we see that the resistance in the West Bank continues. The resistance has not declined and stopped under the pressure of the Zionist regime and the Palestinian Authority security apparatuses. We have seen this in recent developments. These resistance groups, with their popular movements in the West Bank, have shown that they have a strong and lively presence, but because conditions in the West Bank are different from those in the [Gaza] Strip, the form and type [of the resistance] are different [as well].

"But in order to strengthen and arm the West Bank, the operation that can be done, regardless of political views or ideology, is to support the groups, figures, and streams that believe in the resistance in the West Bank. Also, there is a need to support the streams within Fatah and the PLO that have been disappointed by the reconciliation process. This is shifting the situation in the West Bank more and more towards the resistance, and one way or another, a single goal is being created in the various Palestinian groups in the West Bank to oppose the Zionists' cruel and racist actions. The scene in the West Bank is what clearly shows the racist nature of the Zionist regime.

"The way in which the Zionist regime communicates with the people of the West Bank, and even with the Palestinian Authority elements, is so clear that no one doubts that the nature of the Zionist regime is racist. Any observer, particularly international observers, who are helping in the West Bank and see the roadblocks and the insulting and humiliating treatment of ordinary Palestinian citizens acknowledge that the Zionists have set up a racist apartheid regime. Therefore, strengthening the unity among the Palestinian groups and leading them towards all-out, coherent, and unilateral resistance is the best way to strengthen the resistance in the West Bank.

"Several years ago, the Leader [Khamenei] issued an order stating that now, after [arming] Gaza, the time had come to arm the people living in the West Bank so that they could defend themselves and not stand emptyhanded against the war machine of the Zionist regime."[12]

IRGC Commander Salami: "Thousands Of Rockets Were Fired At Tel Aviv... Ashkelon Went Up In Flames; The Zionist Cities Were Attacked With Conflagrations Of Palestinian Rocket Fire – And No Safe Refuge Remained For Them" 

During the fighting, IRGC commander Hossein Salami gave a public address on May 19 stressing solidarity with the Palestinian people, in Imam Hossein square in Tehran. In it, he hinted at a connection between the Palestinian fighting in Gaza and Iran's reaction to Israel's sabotage of Iran at its nuclear facilities and in Syria.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click here or below:

Below are the main points of Salami's statements:

"From Imam Hossein Square, I declare to the Palestinian people that our hearts are with you, and that we are all Palestinians. We stand alongside your young people; we will remain with them until the end, when you fire the Qassam and Sejjil missiles into the heart of the Zionist regime. This alliance is eternal and permanent.

"Believe me, for a year or two, the Zionist regime thought that it had crossed the line of threats and become invulnerable, with useless fantasies and illusions that the Palestinian issue had been forgotten in the Islamic world, and that it can calmly turn Jerusalem into the Zionist capital.

"They [the Zionist regime] attacked Syria, carried out [acts of] terrorism in Iran, sabotaged our nuclear apparatus with the help of those who have sold out, [and] disrupted shipping. They thought that there would be no response, and [the situation] crossed the line [towards] deterioration. But the scene changed, and their ships were attacked. These adventures were two or three months ago. They know what events took place. After the nuclear sabotage, their missile factory blew up, and the refineries in Haifa blew up, and fire broke out in their biggest defense facility, Rafael. Their biggest defense site went up in a large-scale conflagration, and everything changed. The security of the Zionist regime faced unprecedented failure.

"Fear of Hamas haunts their existence. Thousands of rockets were fired at Tel Aviv after the attack on Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Ashkelon went up in flames. The Zionist cities were attacked with conflagrations of Palestinian rocket fire – and no safe refuge remained for them. 

"Their Iron Dome, Patriot, and anti-missile defense system could not withstand the scope of the resistance missile [onslaught], and they gave up.

"This was the first time that the Zionist regime's [naval] and air navigation [systems] had faced a conflict, and they found themselves in a sea of fire on the Mediterranean coast, and all their illusions faded...

"These are the facts: A new Palestine has arisen and it is fighting not with slings and stones but with missiles. This is the new Palestine. Now we are facing a broken, hopeless, and depressed Israel that managed to carry out ground operations for only five minutes.

"We declare our support for the Palestinians, as always. This war is a symbol of the Muslims' battle against the arrogant. America and Israel are doomed to failure, and those who stand with them are as well. 

"It is the great Iran that set conditions for America [and not the other way around], and insists that these conditions be met. May God bless your patience, persistence, and resistance, oh citizens of Iran, who forced the enemy to submit. Move forward; the arena is yours and the enemy is about to retreat."[13]

Hamas, PIJ Leaders Thank Khamenei, Qods Force For Their Military Assistance

With the conclusion of the fighting, Hamas political bureau head Ismail Haniya thanked Khamenei for "his assistance with funds and with weapons"[14] to his organization. PIJ secretary general Ziyad Nakhala thanked Khamenei for his "unwavering and ongoing protection and support, presented on all levels, that played the greatest and most significant role in the achievement of our Palestinian people, in the Sword of Jerusalem battle."

Nakhala continued: "I submit, through you, the highest appreciation to [our Iranian] brothers in the Qods Force, who oversaw us for many years, and provided us with all their experience and assistance, with all due seriousness, until we reached this precious day. Here, I must recall our dear and beloved martyr, our blessed leader Hajj Qassem Soleimani... The comrades of the martyred Hajj, and his brother Hajj Isma'il Qaani, and his assistants, were with us moment after moment in administering this battle, and their presence was welcome and highly beneficial."[15]

Hamas Representative In Iran Khaled Qaddoumi: "Prepare Yourselves To Go To Palestine Very Soon To Pray At Al-Aqsa Mosque; We Are The Nation Of The Imam Hossein; We Are The Nation [That Is Willing To Become] Martyrs"

At a demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian people at Tehran's Imam Hossein Square, Hamas representative in Iran Khaled Qaddoumi said: "Today, more than ever, there is hope of victory. Our bold resistance is shattering the bases of the Zionist regime, and the missiles of the resistance have invaded the skies of the occupied territories [i.e. Israel] and sent the Zionists into holes, like mice.

"We will not allow this cruel regime to remove us from the arena, and we will not allow it to be confident and calm as long as it continues its crimes. The unity of the resistance has surprised the enemy and destroyed its honor.

"The resistance is determined to fight the enemy. Prepare yourselves to go to Palestine very soon and to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque. The blood of the martyrs, primarily Soleimani, is not in vain. We are the nation of the Imam Hossein; we are the nation [that is willing to become] martyrs. Jerusalem and the resistance are triumphing."[16]

Khaled Qaddoumi. (Source: ISNA, Iran, May 19, 2021)

IRGC Qods Force Assistance To Hamas – Arab Sources

It should be noted that sources told the Al-Arabiya network, as the network reported on May 26, 2021, that prior to his death Soleimani had established a special unit for developing Hamas's military capabilities. According to the sources, Iran had secretly sent funds to Hamas so that it could develop these capabilities, and a team of seven experts in missile development, among them Iranians, Lebanese, and Syrians, was set up.

The sources also revealed that Iran had trained 25 Hamas commanders in Tehran. It was reported that Iran had established a special liaison unit in Hamas operating underground, along with weapons development factories. They said that a Qods Force official had visited these factories on five occasions, most recently in January 2021, and that Iranian engineers and one Palestinian engineer had been recently working on developing loitering munition (suicide) UAVs.

The sources added that the missile development unit, that included an Iranian engineer and a Palestinian engineer, had developed the missiles that were recently fired into Tel Aviv. These missiles, it said, were developed completely within the Gaza Strip, and Iran had provided its expertise in this area to Hamas military experts.

Additionally, Al-Arabiya reported, on May 26, that at a "Victory over the Israeli Aggression" ceremony held at Soleimani's tomb in Kerman, southeast Iran, Hamas representative in Iran Khaled Qaddoumi said: "It is no exaggeration to say that the Iranians are partners in these victories. I thank you for your help; we appreciate it."[17]


* A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; M. Manzour is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.

Appendix: IRGC Qods Force Commander Qaani's Letters Of Support To Commanders Of Hamas And PIJ Military Wings

In letters to Muhammad Deif, commander of Hamas's military arm, and Abu Muhammad Akram, commander of PIJ's military arm, that were published by ISNA on May 20, 2021, Qods Force commander Esmail Qaani stressed that Iran would stand with the Palestinian people until Israel was destroyed and Jerusalem was  liberated. The following are the letters:

Qaani To Hamas Military Arm Commander Deif:

"Living Martyr, you have spent your life at the forefront of the jihad arena, and despite all the challenges and dangers, you have remained steadfast, with firm step, powerful will, and faith in God's promise of victory. On behalf of myself and of all the elements of the Islamic Republic [of Iran], I address Your Honor, brave and dedicated commander, and all the commanders and fighters from all the resistance groups.

"Blessings to the fighters of Palestine, those who are sincerely loyal to the alliance they have formed with God. [Blessings to those whom] determination, will, and effort have united, and who have been how God loves...

"Blessings to all the resistance groups, who have made [every] effort to provide the means for strength and the means for victory, despite all the obstacles and difficulties... With God's help, you have prepared everything possible, and have faithfully kept your promise of aiding Jerusalem, and [allowed] the plundering enemy to taste the taste of horror, defeat, and humiliation.

"Blessings to the resisting and believing residents of Jerusalem, who adopted the resistance and remained steadfast with determination, will, and persistence in the face of the barbarism of the Zionist enemy and the terrible crimes carried out against the innocent and who in the path of God devote their lives with honor and pride, satisfied and anticipating the imminent victory that is God's promise...

"Blessings to the Muslim citizens of Palestine in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and all the Palestinian cities occupied in 1948, who rose up with awareness and insight to defend Jerusalem and its sanctity and to defend Gaza and its stability, and who proved to the world that they are a living and vibrant nation that is moving on the path to victory and it is inconceivable that in time they would forget their right, as the ignorant supposed.

"We are following, moment by moment, the details of the Sword of Jerusalem battle – the battle in which you are engaged on behalf of the [Islamic] ummah and in defense of the honor and sanctity of the Islamic ummah with the battalions, platoons, and brigades of the resistance. This battle has opened a new era in the history of the conflict with the plundering Zionist enemy.

"Your resistance, with blood and fire, has constituted an equation for pride and honor. This equation includes [the fact that] the Zionist enemy cannot invade Jerusalem without a friend, helper, and defender, without encountering the deterrent response of the resistance that has gathered strength for decades. As the Leader Khamenei said in his recent speech for International Qods Day, the crash and deterioration of the enemy Zionist regime has begun and will not stop.

"The Sword of Jerusalem battle has brought the [Islamic] ummah back to Jerusalem and its holy places, and has made it clear that the heart of the Muslims in the world still beats with love for Jerusalem. This battle has made it clear that all those who compromise and participate in selling out Palestine and in normalization of relations [with Israel] have only shown their [true] selves, and do not represent the will of the [Islamic] nations, and without a doubt will regret their betrayal [of the Palestinian people].

"Great commander, dear commanders, with your steadfastness and resistance, your fighting brothers in the various resistance factions have created a courageous and great system that has again proven the weakness of the enemy and made clear that (this regime) is weaker than a spider's web.

"Here, I would like to emphasize the alliance that was formed with you by the martyr and top commander Haj Qassem Soleimani. This agreement is based on [the principle of] 'however great the pressure and sanctions, we are never leaving Palestine on her own.'

"The Zionist enemy knows with certainty that today Palestine is not alone. The resistance axis, that is expanding, becoming stronger, and uniting more every minute, is with it, and Jerusalem is the compass for this axis, and the qibla [direction of prayer] of its jihad. The axis that served as a model for the Messenger of God [the Prophet Muhammad] and all those who obey [him] is the axis that God described in the Quran...

"In conclusion, I again send blessings to His Honor and to every single member of the Muslim people in Palestine, and to every fighter of that sacred land, and I kiss the hands of those who bear arms in the jihad and in the defense of Jerusalem [and the] holy [places].

"Our eternal pact with God is that 'we [Iranians] will remain with you [Palestinians] and we will never rest and never stop until the plundering oppressing [Zionist] regime is destroyed and vanishes from the face of the earth and until all the land of Palestine is liberated."

Qaani's Letter To PIJ Military Wing Commander Abu Muhammad Akram And Other Commanders

"On behalf of myself and of all Iranian elements, I send blessings to the sincere, fighting, courageous, and fearless commander. Blessings to you and to all the fighters and commanders of the resistance groups and people of Gaza who are honorably and proudly coping in light of the crimes of the Zionist enemy.

"Blessings to all the people and the Palestinian nation who arose to defend the honor of the ummah and its holy [places] in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and all the lands occupied in 1948.

"[Dear] fighting commander... [and] commanders of the resistance: Persistently, with unity, under your wise and courageous command and guidance in the Sword of Jerusalem battle, you have shattered and trampled the pride of the Zionist army. You have proven that Jerusalem is not alone. You have proven your growing jihadi capabilities and have succeeded in causing heavy losses to the Zionist army, and you have proven that these capabilities are greater than what the enemy ever saw or could even imagine.

"Dear [fighters], the Zionist regime's cruel crimes against the unarmed and innocent people pain us, as they pain the Muslim ummah in Palestine. What consoles and encourages us is that we and you are in the same school [of thought] and on the same line – the same school and line that believe that murder – that is the worst thing with which the enemy threatens us and carries out against us – is for us highest badge of honor [i.e. martyrdom] that we anticipate with enthusiasm, desire, and love.

"For us, murder means martyrdom, and martyrdom is the gateway to the true life, and indeed, we believe that every drop of blood that is spilled on the path to Jerusalem brings us closer to its liberation from the filth of the occupiers.

"It is our greatest wish that God will grant us martyrdom on the path to liberating Jerusalem in the struggle against those whom God called the greatest enemy of the believers. We are certain that the outcome of this struggle will be the final victory [that will] put an end to the [Zionist] regime that is based on lies. Indeed, we will enter Al-Aqsa mosque to pray with honor and with authority, and we believe in God's steadfast promise...

"My dear brother... dear brothers: We are with you and adhere to our alliance with the martyr of Jerusalem, the supreme commander Haj Qassem Soleimani. We are with you in the resistance axis in spirit and body, and with all the strength and means that God has given us – the axis that is in effect the axis of Jerusalem whose capabilities have grown and expanded in recent years. We will never give up – not on the aid [to you] and not on [achieving] victory, until the annihilation and destruction of this plundering [Zionist] regime, no matter how the challenges and dangers grow and strengthen.

"The Leader [Khamenei] stressed in his recent speech for International Qods Day that 'the fight against this criminal and blood-soaked regime is a struggle against oppression and terror, and it is your responsibility.'

"Again I send blessings to you and to each and every member of the steadfast people of Palestine and to all the fighters on the Palestinian land. I kiss your fighters' hands, through which God fires upon His enemy – these are the hands that bring victory."[18]


[2] ISNA (Iran), May 23, 2021.

[3] ISNA (Iran), May 29, 2021.

[4] Kayhan (Iran), June 8, 2021.

[5], May 25, 2021.

[6], May 24, 2021.

[7] ISNA (Iran), May 20, 2021.

[8] ISNA (Iran), May 29, 2021.

[9] ISNA (Iran), May 18, 2021.

[10] ISNA (Iran) May 17, 2021.

[11] ISNA (Iran), May 16, 2021.

[12], May 23, 2021. See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7682, Special Dispatch No. 7682, Israel's Eradication – An Ideological And Practical Goal Of Iran's Islamic Revolution Regime, September 25, 2018; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5906, Iranian Regime Escalates Threats To Annihilate Israel, December 17, 2014.

[13] ISNA (Iran), May 19, 2021.

[14] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 21, 2021.

[15] (Iran), May 22, 2021.

[16] ISNA (Iran), May 19, 2021.

[17] Al-Arabiya, May 26, 2021.

[18] ISNA (Iran), May 20, 2021.

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