August 31, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10173

IRGC Commander Salami In Interview For Supreme Leader Khamenei's Website: 'The Palestinians Are Ready Today For Ground Warfare – Israel's Major Weak Point... Missiles Are Excellent For Deterrence... But They Do Not Liberate The Lands; A Ground-Based Force Must Be Deployed, And Must Liberate The Land, Step By Step... Hizbullah And Palestine Will Move On The Ground In A Single Military Formation'

August 31, 2022
Iran, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10173


On July 23, 2014, the eve of Qods (Jerusalem) Day which is marked every year by the Iranian regime on the last Friday of Ramadan, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said: "The only solution for [the problem of the Israeli regime] is its annihilation and liquidation. Of course, until that time [comes], the determined and armed Palestinian resistance, and its spread to the West Bank, are the only way to deal with that bestial regime… Therefore, it is my belief that the West Bank should be armed just like Gaza. Anyone who cares about the fate of Palestine, and who is capable of doing something, should provide arms to the people [of the West Bank] too…"[1]

Two weeks ago, on August 19, 2022, the website of Supreme Leader Khamenei published an interview with Hossein Salami, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In the interview, Salami reiterated Khamenei's instructions to the Palestinian resistance movements to arm the West Bank, including the cities of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Tulkarm, and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem – just as Iran had helped Gaza arm itself with missiles and weapons – and to continue their armed struggle against civilians in Israel's cities, including from within the West Bank.

Noting that the process of arming the West Bank with Iran's help is ongoing, he said that in order to defeat Israel there is a need for ground warfare that includes a joint front of Palestine and Lebanon in which the Palestinian young people in the West Bank and Gaza and the Hizbullah fighters will both participate.

Boasting of the achievements of the Palestinian Islamic resistance, he said that these are expressed by the many Israeli dead in recent months. He argued that the Palestinians and Hizbullah must launch a "ground war," explaining that this is "because, while missiles are excellent for deterrence or for waging static wars, they do not liberate the lands." Even though Israel's army is equipped with modern weapons, he added, it lacks the faith and religious fervor of the Palestinians and of the resistance movement. The Zionists have no ethnic, linguistic, or national unity, he said, and thus they will flee Palestine the moment that fighting on the ground begins.

IRGC commander Hossein Salami. Khamenei's website, August 19, 2022.

The following is a translation of Salami's interview for Khamenei's website: [2]

IRGC Commander Salami: "It Is Vital To Continue The Jihad... The Struggle Is Spreading Within The Occupied Territories… Hundreds Of Thousands Of Missiles Are Deployed Against Israel And They Can Attack, In Unlimited Volume, Anywhere In The Zionist Regime – In The North And West From The Gaza Strip, And In The North By Hizbullah"

Q: "During the past year we witnessed the resistance groups' united stand against the enemy in the [May 2021] Sword of Jerusalem campaign– which we also saw in the latest resistance campaign against the Zionists [in August 2022]. There is an impression that the Palestinian resistance against the Zionist enemy has entered a new phase. What differentiates this new phase of the resistance relative to the past?"

Salami: "Over time, the Palestinian movement has grown and matured significantly in terms of the continuity and persistence [of its action]. The struggle is changing from a movement that was periodically [active] to one that is continuously [active]. That is the first characteristic. At previous stages, you saw clashes and battles [interspersed with] long hiatuses, and you did not see the current continuity of the struggle. For instance, every few years there were confrontations at limited points, at limited times, of limited force, and with limited goals. Over time,  the dimensions of the conflict have expanded, and the Palestinians' skill in an ongoing struggle is flourishing.

"The flames of the resistance lit in the occupied territories [i.e., Israel] at the beginning of the month of Ramadan this year – that is, starting in March 2022 – have never been extinguished, and you see that these struggles are permanently ongoing throughout Palestine's territories. From the beginning of the year to this day, many Zionists were killed in resistance operations carried out inside the occupied territories [Israel]. This cannot be compared to last year, except for the Sword of Jerusalem campaign.

"Continuing the jihad is vitally important, because the jihad strengthens its structure and its spirit and develops technical means, equipment, techniques, tactics, and lessons learned. Thus, the Palestinians are on an unstoppable path towards the struggle's qualitative growth.

"The second point is that the struggle is spreading within the occupied territories. It is not just Gaza that is involved in the arena of resistance and the struggle; the struggle has also moved to the West Bank. Very often, you hear names like Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Tulkarm, Sheikh Jarrah [in East Jerusalem], etc. These are the major cities in the West Bank. There is no geographic link between the West Bank and Gaza; they are like two separate islands surrounded by the Zionist regime. There are also thick concrete walls there, six meters high with ultra-modern and advanced electronic and optic sensors. They even monitor underground vibrations to discover whether a tunnel is being excavated somewhere. In the small geographic area of occupied Palestine, they are implementing all these modern and advanced measures – surveillance balloons, drones, and day- and night-vision cameras, even electronic data collection sensors and vibration meters – so that there is no contact between the external and internal environments of occupied Palestine. [But] despite all these limitations, you saw today that hundreds of rockets and missiles were launched in one small campaign. It is hard to believe how the Palestinian movement successfully armed itself with quantities of missiles despite all the ostensibly impenetrable security barriers.

"Look at [the development of] the Palestinian movement from almost two decades ago, [at the time of] the martyrdom of [12-year-old] Muhammad Al-Durrah [whose death in crossfire in Gaza in September 2000 made him a symbol of the Second Intifada] until now. [Back then] the Palestinians genuinely fought with stones, [in] what they called the intifada. What did that intifada mean? It was the revolution of the stone – they fought with stones. How did the Palestinians achieve the strength they have today [when they are] besieged and under extremely  complicated and extensive security measures? Anyone familiar with the Zionist regime's security arrangements for controlling the borders knows that ultimately the Zionist regime has, with its security logic, made the borders impenetrable. But despite this isolation and extremely complex siege, weapons are produced and distributed there. This might sprouted in the Palestinian territories [themselves] – it was not transferred in from outside. They found the capability to produce strength from within. Building such might in such a geographic space is truly one of the miracles of the Palestinian resistance. And inner strength does not give out.

"Last year, you saw six Palestinians escape from the Zionist regime's prison, and I think that most of them were brothers [i.e., members] of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ]. The fact that someone could break out of a Zionist regime prison and escape undermines all the Zionist regime's security control. It is true that after [their escape] these men were again arrested, but their very process of escape from this prison under these conditions shows that the Palestinians can carry out whatever they want.  

"The next point is that the Palestinians have developed so much in the struggle that they are capable of attacking any point in the territories under the Zionist occupation. That is, the Zionist regime has no safe corner to hide from the Palestinians' fire. When we bring Hizbullah in Lebanon into the equation, we understand that there are hundreds of thousands of missiles deployed against Israel, and they can attack in unlimited volume anywhere in the Zionist regime – in the north and west from the Gaza Strip, and in the north by Hizbullah."

"The Palestinians Are Ready Today For Ground Warfare – Israel's Major Weak Point... The Outcome Of The Battle Will Be Determined When The Battle Goes Onto The Ground, And The Brave And Experienced Men Of Hizbullah And Palestine Will Move Over The Ground In A Single Military Formation"

Q: "Does the strength of the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine today take the form only of guerilla strength of missiles and rockets, or does it also have other reliable characteristics and traits?"

Salami: "The Palestinian resistance, and that of Hizbullah in Lebanon, are a very strong pillar. Today, the ground force in Palestine and Lebanon can completely control the equation of survival or death in land warfare. Thanks to the experience, confidence, lessons, knowledge, capabilities, equipment, and techniques that Hizbullah has acquired in the struggle against the takfiris in Syria [i.e. the Sunni fighters fought by Hizbullah's elite Radwan Unit during the Syria war], it can lead ground warfare to complete victory. We all know that the takfiris fight without fear of death, and only men with jihadi faith can fight against them. It is difficult to defeat them, and success in doing so is an indication that you are very strong and powerful. Look at the case of the takfiris – Hizbullah did this, and emerged victorious from that war.

"In addition, the Palestinians are ready today for ground warfare. Israel's biggest weakness is ground warfare. Fighting by means of missiles is not the main point of the struggle. They know that the territories must be liberated by ground forces. While missiles are excellent for deterrence and for waging static wars, they do not liberate the land. A ground-based force must be deployed, and must liberate the land step by step – like we did during the Iran-Iraq war [1980-1988]. The outcome of the battle will be determined when the struggle is on the ground, and the brave and experienced people of Hizbullah and Palestine will move on the ground in a single military formation.

"In what arena [will the fighting take place]? In the arena where society, politics, and militarism completely overlap. The moment ground operations begin, great waves of emigrating [Israeli] civilians and soldiers will intermingle, and the balance of the Zionists' military command and control system will be thrown off. Do not look at the current situation, which is not under war conditions and in which this regime's airplanes fly as usual, transportation is stable, power stations and refineries operate, administrative order prevails, and the regime is able to manage its environment calmly and with no pressure. Under conditions of war, all this order will fall apart, because [Israel's] territory is small and densely populated. And who [lives in Israel]? People who came to this territory for prosperity and a comfortable life. In such a scenario [of war], the Zionist regime will face waves of out-of-control fires and the movement of jihadis whom nothing can stop. Then you will see what will happen.

"The vision of [Israelis'] return [to their alleged countries of origin] – aka 'reverse migration' – which is intensifying, is emerging because of the unstable security and political conditions, and because of the political disintegration and chaos [in Israel]. In addition, the enemy is facing political disintegration in the occupied territories. A rift prevails in the Zionist regime, a sort of unending political dispute, [along with] social disintegration, a lack of a united identity, and a lack of nationalism. The Zionists have no connection to this land. Some of them are of European origin, some of African origin, some from East Asia, and some from America. They came from different places and are a heterogenous and loose assortment of nations with different languages, cultures, customs, and traditions, from different national roots. No national identity traits at all were created there.

"The Zionists are not people who stay [to fight] in the trenches. They even fled South Lebanon in 2000 with food on the stovetops and communication radios still on. Do you understand? That's how strong their urge to flee is.

Q: "How did the resistance manage to preserve itself and continue the struggle against the Zionist regime, in light of the latter's capabilities and the depth of its intelligence infiltration, even inside Gaza and the West Bank?

Salami: "Many believe that [Israel's] technological strength is unlimited and that they can do whatever they want. [But] this strength, complex as it may be, is limited. All material capabilities have a limit. You can see their scope – and even their impact is limited. The only strength that has no limit relies on God, and reliance on God is manifested in the people. That is, when the people, with their faith, are on the path of strength, this strength overflows. It is unlimited. But strength that has definite specifications, that has a fixed organizational structure, that has set rules and criteria for fighting, that has certain weapons and a static structure – [such strength] runs out as the war continues. All material strength is limited. It runs down and runs out. Of course, this does not mean that the forces of the believers who rely on God do not use of weapons. On the contrary – the believers double the strength of their weapons.

"The forces with the armed spirit are armed according to [Quran verse 8:60] 'Prepare for them whatever you are able to of military power.' In battle readiness, we have the term under heading 'Power' – 'advancing power enhancers.' This means, for example, that one young believer can turn the power of an RPG into the power of a tank, while a man without faith abandons his tank and flees. Of course, the Zionists are advanced with regard to [military] intelligence; they are sophisticated. But why can't they manage to expose these complex and hidden operations in Palestine and Lebanon? This has to do with that same limit of power. That is, the range of their strength is what their equipment allows. Therefore, their strength can be surpassed, whether in intelligence or operationally. When the side facing the Zionists is strong, they are very weak, and if the side facing them is weak, they appear terrifying. When they want to fight classic armies like their own army, they are strong. But when they are facing jihad groups, they are shaky. In meetings I held with [Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief] Mr. Ziyad Nakhaleh, I told him that the Zionists have inherent weaknesses. The stronger you get, the more these weaknesses reveal themselves. If the side facing them is weak, these weaknesses will not be revealed, and they will show more of their strengths."

"The PIJ Was On The Scene While Other Factions Provided Spiritual Support; Had The Battle Developed, Of Course All The Palestinian Factions Would Have Become Involved"

Q: "One of the issues that was the focus of much of the Zionist propaganda during the last battle was that only some of the resistance was involved in the struggle, while the other part [Hamas] was not. According to their interpretation, the various resistance groups differ in their approach to the Zionist enemy. Of course, the Palestinian resistance factions rejected this. PIJ secretary general [Ziyad Nakhaleh] even emphasized, at a press conference and in his letter to the leader of the revolution [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] the unity among the various factions. What is your analysis of this media maneuver by the Zionists?"

Salami: "This story is a Zionist plot. The strategy of the Zionists was to act selectively this time against one faction. That is, for instance, they targeted only one faction [the PIJ] and announced that they [Israel] had no interest in the other groups, so that they would stop [fighting]. Then, after they settled their score with one faction, they would go after the other factions – thereby dividing Palestine into separate and unaffiliated jihad units, so that the [Iran-led] resistance would not be able to act as a unified front. Well, the jihadi initiative was first of all to name the operation 'Wahdat Al-Sahat' – that is, 'Unity of the Arenas' – meaning all as one. The fact that only the PIJ was involved in fighting was due to the scale of the battle, which was not intense enough to require [the participation of other factions] beyond the [Palestinian Islamic] Jihad.

"The PIJ was on the scene while others provided spiritual support. Had the battle developed, of course all the Palestinian factions would have become involved. However, since the PIJ was able to win this struggle on its own, there was no need for others to enter into it. We have a principle called 'energy usage': It makes no sense to exhaust all our forces when the PIJ can serve as an example of just one force. It was a very important point that this time Israel was defeated by a single faction in Palestine. The PIJ, Hamas, the [West] Bank, even the young fighters of Fatah, as well as the other factions, and the Palestinian people were all prepared [for battle]. But the battle in that region ended with the PIJ's action, tactics, and operations. Nevertheless, in the spiritual arena, all Palestine stood united with the PIJ.

"The strategy of the resistance is to strangle the Zionist regime using its own strategy. That is, we prove to them that they cannot continue their battle, not [even] against a single resistance faction. Had they been able to, the Israelis would have continued the fight. Someone who feels like he is winning does not seek to end the war at the height of his own success or seek a mediator [to reach a ceasefire]. All the Palestinians were prepared to enter the battle, but their plan was not to escalate the intensity of the confrontation. They wanted a victory in a battle of limited scope. And that is exactly what happened. The Palestinians had the winning strategy – to force the enemy to accept their terms in a short battle of limited scope. What gains can the Zionist regime claim now? The policy of the Zionists has failed. The [Zionist] regime's inability to sow division and schism in Palestine is a failure."

"The Resistance In The West Bank Today Is On Edge, Exuberant, And Raging; The Same Palestinian Who Formed A Force In Gaza Is Also Building A Force In The [West] Bank; There Is No Difference Between These Two Territories... It Is Very Easy To Manufacture And Transport Weapons, And The Israelis Usually Uncover [This] Too Late... The Youth Of The '48 And '67 Territories, And The Youth Of The [Islamic] Jihad In The [West] Bank And Jerusalem Are Awakening To Revive Jihad"

Q: "Another aspect of the issue of the resistance in Palestine is the expansion of the battle arena from Gaza to the other occupied territories [Israel], an issue that was apparent during the 'Sword of Jerusalem' battle. Here, the West Bank enters into the equation, and the leader of the Islamic Revolution [Khamenei] has emphasized [the need] for arming the West Bank. My specific question is, what is the current state of the resistance in the West Bank?"

Salami: "Well, this is a reality that is coming into being. Just like Gaza was armed, so can the West Bank be armed; this is a process that is coming into being.

Q: "Does that mean it has begun?"

Salami: "Yes. Besides that, look at the resistance inside the occupied territories. For instance, in Jenin. It is very effective. The resistance in the West Bank today is on edge, exuberant, and raging. The same Palestinian who formed a force in Gaza is also building a force in the [West] Bank. There is no difference between these two territories. Today it is also much easier to obtain weapons than it was in the past. No one can stop technology from being passed around and developed. In today's global landscape, it is very easy to manufacture and transport weapons, and the Israelis usually uncover [this] too late. Today, the youth of the territories of '48 and '67 and the youth of the [Islamic] Jihad in the [West] Bank and Jerusalem are slowly awakening to revive jihad. This is an event that will probably take place in the not-too-distant future. Its is also happening faster compared to in the past. Look, there are many differences between last year and the present. You must take into account that the process of growing the force is increasing steadily and exponentially."

Q: "The picture that you correctly painted of the Zionist enemy's security and military foundations reveals a rickety structure. It is interesting that this reality is the total opposite of the impression of this regime that is created by world media outlets.

Salami: "This is the characteristic of the spiderweb. They have a complex front and seem very threatening. But they are very unstable. A big part of this is psychological warfare. Ultimately, these pictures remain stable, influenced by psychological warfare, as long as nothing is happening on the ground. When operations take place on the ground, they form the basis for discerning [reality]. They have received many blows. They received more than they gave. They themselves know it."

Q: "What issues were raised at your meeting with PIJ secretary general [Ziyad Nakhaleh]?"

Salami: "We discussed an analysis of the strength of the Zionists and how it has eroded compared to the past. The [Zionist] regime is experiencing osteoporosis, shrinkage, and chaos. Our dear friends [in the PIJ] have reached the same conclusion. That is why they withstood this battle. This issue is very evident, in our friends' view. There is a strong belief that Israel is fading away, and that its decline is becoming more and more steep with time. The Palestinians believe they can become owners of their land in the near future.

Q: "How was the Supreme Leader's [Khamenei's] response to Mr. Ziyad Nakhaleh's [recent] letter received by the community and the resistance front in Palestine?"

Salami: "The Palestinians are discovering who their true friends are. True friends stand by them in difficult situations. The Supreme Leader of the forces [Khamenei] has commanded that we stand at your side, [Palestinians,] until the end. For Palestine, this is a support and a mighty engine of strength.

"Essentially, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution has mastery of the facts, thanks to his unique and longstanding experience in such difficult arenas. He has deep and penetrating insight into events, their consequences, and matters beyond, in terms of the depth, reflections, and echoes of the issue and its impacts. You may notice that [Khamenei's] message [to Nakhaleh] is full of hope and faith in God's blessing for the Palestinians. It is full of council for unity and solidarity among all Palestinian factions, and carries a wave of powerful hope for the future. The light of this hope shines in the hearts of the Palestinians, and prepares them for a better future. [The message] was very stirring and inspiring – a fundamental, epic, and faith-based message for the continuation of the divine movement and the expansion of the spirit of jihad."


[1] Website of the leader Khamenei (Iran), July 23, 2014; for further excerpts from this speech, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1107, "Qods Day In Iran: Tehran Calls For Annihilation Of Israel And For Arming The West Bank," July 25, 2014.

[2] Website of the leader Khamenei (Iran), August 19, 2022.

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