July 24, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10721

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Secretary-General Ziad Al-Nakhaleh In Interviews With Iranian Media: We Manufacture Weapons Thanks To Aid Provided By Iran And Seek To Arm All West Bank Cities; No Jew Anywhere In The World Lives In Greater Danger Than The Jews In Palestine

July 24, 2023
Iran, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10721

On June 12-23, 2023, the secretary-general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Ziad Al-Nakhaleh, visited Iran and met with several regime officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Ebrahim Raisi, and figures in the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).[1] The meetings centered around the ongoing Iranian aid to the Palestinians, especially to the PIJ, and the strengthening of the resistance in the West Bank.[2]

During the visit and after it, Al-Nakhaleh gave a series of interviews to Iranian media, in which he spoke at length about a wide range of topics, including the armed resistance against Israel carried out by the PIJ in coordination with other terror organizations in Gaza and the West Bank; the growing efforts to arm the West Bank, and the Palestinians' independent manufacture of arms, made possible by Iranian assistance. 

Al-Nakhaleh also discussed the Jenin Brigade, a militia that has been active in that city for about two years and which comprises fighters from multiple factions but predominantly from the PIJ's military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades. He said that this force  was established thanks to intense efforts by the PIJ, which had decided to cooperate with other factions, including with Fatah-affiliated elements, and to aid and arm them. This move, he explained, had yielded several positive outcomes, such as strengthening elements within Fatah that are opposed to the Palestinian Authority (PA), uniting the various elements in the field and significantly enhancing the resistance activity in Jenin. He added that the PIJ seeks to replicate the Jenin Brigade model in all the West Bank cities and that it has already started to form and arm more brigades of this kind. Addressing the Israeli claim that the PIJ is acting to enhance the capabilities of the resistance in Jenin, including in terms of manufacturing drones, firing rockets and excavating tunnels, Al-Nakhaleh said that this is indeed happening, but currently on a limited scale.

The PIJ leader stated further that the increase of armed resistance in the West Bank is partly due to the aid provided by Iran and its Supreme Leader, Khamenei, who already a decade ago ordered to arm the fighters in the West Bank.[3]  The Palestinians are implementing this directive by smuggling arms into the West Bank and even buying arms from the Israelis themselves, he said. The Palestinians' independent manufacture of weapons in Gaza, including rockets, anti-tank weapons and explosive charges, he added, is likewise thanks to the extensive knowhow and experience  Iran has shared with them since the advent of the Islamic Revolution regime. Al-Nakhaleh praised the contribution of the late Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani to developing the abilities of the Palestinian armed factions, and noted that the relations with the Qods Force continue to be close in the era of Soleimani's successor, Esmail Qaani.

Referring to Israel, Al-Nakhaleh proclaimed confidently that it will eventually cease to exist, but that how long this will take depends on the efforts of the resistance. If the resistance is strong and willing to persist and to sacrifice, he said, this goal may be achieved within a decade or two. He called to continue carrying out deadly attacks against Israelis, because, once they understand they cannot live peaceful lives in Palestine they will surely go back to where they came from. 

Al-Nakhaleh attacked the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the PLO for recognizing Israel and signing the Oslo Accords with it, saying that even they now realize that this was a pointless move. He also  slammed the Arab regimes that hold ties with Israel and support the notion of peace with it, calling this a degrading surrender to American pressures. He criticized those countries for pressuring the PIJ to sever its ties with Iran without offering to aid it  instead of Iran.

Al-Nakhaleh giving an interview to the Iranian paper Al-Vefagh (Image:, June 30, 2023)

The following are translated excerpts from interviews given by Al-Nakhaleh to two Iranian media outlets: the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Vefagh and the official Iranian news agency IRNA.

The Gazan Joint Operations Room Is Not An Actual Command And Control Center, And Is Over-Hyped

Q: "In the wake of the wars in the Gaza Strip and the victories won by the resistance in the recent years, we have been hearing about the joint operations room [of the Gazan armed factions]. What does it do and what is the significance of its activity?"

A: "The joint operations room coordinates between the [various] resistance forces on the ground with regards to firing rockets and [extending] mutual assistance. In people's minds, 'operations room' means a center that commands, controls and steers [action], and so on, but in practice this is not exactly the case. If we want to accurately describe [the function of this body], it directly coordinates between the resistance forces in the field and follows the confrontations [with Israel] on the ground. That is the accurate description, but sometimes there are exaggerations in this context."    

Q: "Does such coordination take place in all the arenas?"

A: "Generally speaking, coordination takes place where [various] armed factions are active, whereas areas that do not have many different armed factions have less need for coordination. In Gaza in particular, there is constant coordination  and openness among the [different] Palestinian forces, and there is a framework that unites the [different] factions, called the joint operations room. But that does not mean that the operations room has a permanent address, or that it oversees  and monitors the military affairs on a regular basis. [The term 'operations room'] is just what we call the ongoing coordination, [which takes place] as needed.

"There are places where Palestinian resistance exists, but it is impossible to carry out the kind of coordination that takes place in Gaza. In the West Bank there are all kinds of military cells and branches. An example is the Jenin refugee camp, where the main [active] force is the Jenin Brigade, belonging to the [PIJ military wing], the Al-Quds Brigades... That does not contradict the fact that that there are additional factions [there] which are perhaps assisted by the Jenin Brigade in weapons and transportation."

The Rockets Fired From Gaza To Tel Aviv Are Locally Manufactured Using Knowhow Provided By Iran

Q: "In the wars of the 1960s and 1970s we did not see victories against the Zionist entity. But now, although the Zionist entity is the same entity, and despite its military development, we see that the wars last only a few hours or days before the Zionist entity asks for a ceasefire. What developments have occurred in this arena that [enabled us to] reach the era of victories?"

A: "…I will not deny that the Palestinian military activity has developed thanks to knowledge we have gained, whether through experience in the field or thanks to [our] openness to the Islamic Republic [of Iran] since the [1979] Islamic Revolution. The Palestinian people gained a great deal of knowhow and experience thanks to that revolution… In the 40 years that have passed since then, ties developed between the Palestinians and the Islamic Republic, until we began to receive expertise and knowledge from this republic in the domain of weapons and manufacture. Today we see the resistance playing more roles than in the past. The Palestinians have more knowledge than in the past, and they manufacture many types of weapons to use in fighting the occupation. These weapons are manufactured locally, except for the machine guns.  The rockets, the anti-tank weapons and the explosive charges are made locally. A significant portion of the knowledge was provided by our brothers in the Islamic Republic, which had considerable impact. The resistance action we see today, as part of which rockets are fired at the occupied cities, especially at Tel Aviv and all of Israel's major cities, [utilizes] expertise that the Palestinian resistance and people learned from the Islamic Republic, in addition to the knowhow about mortars, explosive charges, etc. The Palestinian resistance has made progress and accumulated knowledge, all thanks to its openness to the Islamic Republic and to [this republic's] cooperation with the Palestinian people in the domain of technical and military knowhow. That is what made the difference. "

Khamenei's Directive To Arm The West Bank Is Implemented On The Ground By Smuggling Arms Or Buying Them From Israelis

Q: "We see the developments in Jenin and in the West Bank. Has the policy of arming the West Bank been actualized?"

A: "…When [the Iranian] Leader [Khamenei] called to arm the West Bank, he essentially identified a very sensitive area in terms of the conflict with the enemy… Although we realized the importance of the West Bank [before this], his directive had considerable impact on morale and on the attention paid [to this issue] by our brothers who address these matters, as well as by the resistance factions themselves. There was general cooperation aimed at achieving a high-quality shift in the Palestinian condition. A plan was formulated to achieve this, whether by smuggling arms there or by buying them from the Israelis themselves. The important point is that there was intense focus [on this], aimed at causing a shift in the West Bank from a state of calm and quiet to the state of resistance we see today. This was certainly in accordance with the directives of the honorable leader [Khamenei] about arming the West Bank. In any case, in our [recent] visit to Iran and in our meeting with the leader [Khamenei], he again stressed [the need] to promote the arming of the West Bank and the resistance activity there. I believe that we, the Palestinian people and the resistance, understand the importance of arming the West Bank, but this requires an effort by the Palestinians themselves as well as assistance from the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Israel Will Cease To Exist; We Must Continue The Resistance Until The Jews Leave Palestine

Q: "Are there countries or regimes that want to stop the arming of the West Bank?"

A: "All the countries that seek [to realize] the plan of peace in the region are against [arming] the West Bank and against the resistance in general… There is a large Arab current that supports the notion of a settlement and peace with Israel and is implanting this. But the desires of the Palestinian people play a major role in thwarting this plan… No real Palestinian accepts Israel's existence or recognizes it. Palestinians who have a modicum of honor and patriotism do not recognize Israel. Those who do recognize it are the exception, and they are perhaps motivated by [certain] circumstances or pressures, [including from] Arab elements. But as long as we are in the field, as long as Jerusalem remains occupied and our homes and lands remain occupied, the resistance will continue to exist. The most important thing is to strengthen the resistance. We are absolutely convinced that Israel will cease to exist one day. If we are weak this may not happen for another century, but if we are strong and [cultivate our] abilities, resistance, persistence and willingness to sacrifice, it may happen within 20 years. It's all up to us...  If our condition is good, we may change the power balance within 10 years, but if our situation is bad, it may take 50 years… I believe that, in the recent years, we have brought about a high-quality and significant turning-point in terms of the resistance, and this trend is gaining momentum from day to day. The Palestinian people's preparations and sacrifice are there, and if Allah wills it, we will soon be able to pose a serious threat to the Zionist enterprise. We are optimistic, and we will win, even if it takes another 10 or 15 years.

"We are optimistic [and believe] that if we invest more efforts, the Zionist enterprise will fall apart. The Jews came to Palestine for peace and stability and an opportunity to live [well]. But if a Jew finds no chance to live and find peace here, if a Jew finds that Palestine is a place where he is killed, he will surely leave. He came to Palestine to live in security and stability, and when he fails to find them, he will go back where he came from. For no Jews anywhere in the world face greater danger to their lives than the Jews in Palestine. The Jews in other countries live in prosperity… We must act to change the Israelis' beliefs [and clarify] that this place affords them no chance of surviving and that the only place Jews are being killed is Palestine, so they must leave this country." 

We Are Establishing Fighting Brigades In The West Bank  And Arming Dissident Elements Within The PA

Q: "We have seen development [of the resistance] in the West Bank, but two years ago we saw the [Arabs] inside [Israel] take [to the streets]. Will we ever see the emergence of resistance brigades [inside Israel]? And will we see the resistance [springing] new surprises on the Zionist enemy?"

A: "We in the PIJ have acted and are still acting to establish fighting brigades in all the Palestinian cities of the West Bank. The scope and abilities of these brigades differ from place to place, depending on our ability to arm them and provide them with as many capabilities as possible. The Jenin Brigade is no doubt exceptional by virtue of being the first… But brigades and military cells have been established in all the Palestinian cities. The PIJ has been especially responsible for this, but this does not contradict the fact that there are fighters from Hamas and other organizations as well. Let me also note that we have benefited from our openness towards the power centers of the Fatah movement, which include groups that oppose the [Palestinian] Authority and oppose any settlement [with Israel], and have influence on the ground. We decided to show openness towards these groups, assist them and arm them. Their presence helped the resistance to spread, because they have in some way or another become an opposition to the PA. We thus created a problem for the PA by [fostering] groups that oppose it from within. Yet, at the same time, a situation of national unity emerged within [Palestinian] society… Those who previously defended the PA now lean towards the resistance, and we have shown openness towards them, armed them and assisted them, while making sure that they remain part of Fatah.[4]

"The process of [fostering] openness within Palestinian society is a task [that requires] an ongoing call for national unity and extending aid wherever possible. I believe  that this [openness to elements within Fatah] will help the resistance, and especially the PIJ, to be one step ahead of everyone else.   

"We also monitor the situation on the ground, share knowledge on manufacturing explosives, and provide extensive and ongoing assistance to the fighters in the field. In addition, there are released PIJ prisoners with a lot of knowledge, and we have availed ourselves of their assistance. The resistance thus made great efforts on the levels of finance, arms and personnel, and [sacrificed] many martyrs…"

The Oslo Accords Are Dead; Arab Regimes Hold Contacts With Israel Under U.S. Pressure And That Is A Humiliation

Q: "How do you see the status of the Also Accords and of the PA today, especially in light of the victories of the resistance on the ground? And what is currently the nature of the relations between the resistance and the PA?"

A: "The Oslo Accords are dead, and it is not me saying this. Even the PA, which signed these accords, admits this, because one of the main parties to the accords [i.e., Israel] does not accept them, honor them or recognize them. So the Oslo Accords are over… Some of the Palestinians undertook [to sign] the Oslo Accords, recognized [Israel] and gave [it] what nobody had dreamt of giving. Our tragedy is that some Palestinians recognized [Israel], yet the Israelis [still] talk about a Jewish state in the West Bank, and that is why there is no hope for peace…

"Unfortunately, the Arabs are in a state of humiliation due to American pressures and the existence of illegitimate regimes in Arab countries that have succumbed to 'Israel.' That is why you find that almost all the Arab regimes surrounding 'Isael' are establishing direct or indirect relations with it. Indirect relations with 'Israel' essentially mean recognizing it, and whoever recognizes it prevents the Palestinians from waging resistance. All the Arab regimes are persecuting the Palestinians, to the extent that we are under siege. In Gaza we are besieged both by the Arabs and by the Jews.     

"So there is no peace with the Zionist enterprise… I believe that the discourse in the region about peace with 'Israel' has [actually] evaporated. The only thing left is some dreams of [Arab] regimes that are merely meant to appease the Americans, but in practice there are no plans for a settlement with 'Israel.'"

Qassem Soleimani Was More Palestinian Than The Palestinians And Personally Oversaw The Training Of Fighters And The Aid To The Resistance

Q: "How would you describe the martyr Hajj Qassem Soleimani, who is no longer physically with us but whose spirit still permeates the resistance axis?"

A: "…Hajj Qassem Soleimani was [certainly] present in the Palestinian fighting arena, and the Islamic Republic has provided extensive aid to the Palestinian people. Some may be under the impression that the Palestinians receive hundreds of millions in [Iranian] aid every month. Some may believe this, but I tell you [that it is not so]. The resistance and the [good] condition of the resistance in Palestine were achieved with the limited means we possessed and with [whatever] aid we received. [But] we certainly recognize what the Islamic Republic of Iran has provided to the Palestinian resistance, including knowledge, training and funds…

"We do not deny that we receive this assistance, but nobody must exaggerate the scope of the economic aid. There is security and military aid, which is the most important aspect, and there is humanitarian aid for the families of the martyrs and prisoners. There is the level of humanitarian aid, and the rest of the assistance provided by Iran takes the form of military aid and weapons capabilities… Hajj Qassem [Soleimani] was always present and oversaw everything personally, even the training of the fighters and the issue of the aid. He oversaw, supervised and monitored things, and asked questions. His presence as a human being was highly valuable, and we always said that Hajj Qassem Soleimani was more Palestinian than the Palestinians and loved Jerusalem more than the people of Jerusalem [themselves]. Therefore I can call him a martyr for Jerusalem. All the Palestinian commanders knew him and knew the depth of his involvement in everything to do with Palestine."

Q: "Do these relations continue the same way with Hajj Esmail Qaani?"

 A: "Certainly…  Hajj Qassem Soleimani and Hajj Ismail [Qaani] are representatives of the Islamic Republic and basically [represent] the Muslim Iranian people and their aspirations… This support and assistance can be attributed to Iran and to [its] honorable Leader [Khamenei]. The entire Iranian people shares this support [for the resistance]."

The Arab Regimes Do Not Want Us To Hold Ties With Iran, But They Do Not Offer To Help Us Instead

Q: "Were there elements or regimes that asked you to sever your relations with Iran?"

A: "Of course, constantly. Not a single Arab regime wants Palestine to have ties with Iran, because the political plan [of the Arab regimes] is different from ours. Their plan is to end the problems with 'Israel,' even if the Palestinians remain under occupation. Everyone is somehow against the Palestinian people having ties [with Iran] and everyone has asked the resistance movements to avoid holding ties with it. But they did not say, 'If you sever your ties with Iran we will provide you with aid [instead].' They just want us to end our relations with Iran…"[5]

The Cooperation Between The Resistance Factions In Jenin Is A Model We Seek To Replicate Throughout The West Bank

On July 9, 2023, following the Israeli armed forces' recent operation in Jenin to dismantle the terror infrastructures in the Jenin refugee camp and its environs, Iran's official news agency IRNA posted its own interview with Al-Nakhaleh, in which he addressed several issues. The following are excerpts:

Q: "Let's start with the most prominent recent event, which is Operation Bravery of Jenin [the Palestinian name for the recent round of fighting in the city]. How do you view this campaign and its impact on the future of the resistance in the West Bank?

A: "…This campaign was characterized by fighting spirit and intense willingness to sacrifice on the part of the Jenin Brigade and the other Palestinian resistance factions, especially [Fatah's] Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, [Hamas'] Al-Qassam Brigades and [the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine], the Abu 'Ali Mustafa Brigades. [Also notable] was the united popular support [for the resistance], which played an important part in the steadfastness of the fighters. This surely presented an important model for the other West Bank cities, all of which are under the Zionist occupation, and I believe that in the future it will be an inspiration for all Palestinians… The Palestinian model presented by Jenin, of resistance and united popular support, should be a model for all the cities and villages of Palestine."

Q: "The Jenin Brigade, which is part of [the PIJ military wing,] the Al-Quds Brigades, was the most prominent resistance faction involved in Operation Bravery of Jenin. Can it be said that this experience has fully ripened and become a meaningful factor in the equation of resistance in the West Bank?"

A: "[The model of] the Jenin Brigade is now fully operational and what happened in Jenin proves this.  We are acting in all seriousness to spread these brigades in all the Palestinian cities, and they are becoming a fact on the ground, [albeit] to a different extent in each city.  This is despite the many obstacles, chief of them the shortage of weapons and lack of ways to supply them, but we are working in all seriousness to extend the Jenin model to all the Palestinian cities, and the young Palestinians are willing to do this…"

Q: "The occupation has mentioned that tunnels, drones and advanced explosive charges are being prepared in Jenin. Do you think this is part of an attempt to inflate the capabilities of the resistance in order to justify the aggression against Jenin, or is the resistance really gaining more capabilities in the West Bank?"

A: "Yes, these things are happening, but not the way the enemy claims. These headlines and terms are crucial, and are part of the resistance, [but] their scope is modest. The enemy is exaggerating and wants to show that it is fighting a front with vast capabilities. This is intended to justify its use of state-o-the-art weapons, including fighter jets and the like…"

Q: "Will the experience of the joint [operations] room of the Palestinian factions [in Gaza] be replicated in the West Bank?"

A: "The [operations] room in Gaza is a coordination framework, and I can say that what is happening in the West Bank goes far beyond a coordination framework, especially the Jenin Brigade's ties with the forces around  it, because we share our money, weapons and food [with them]…"[6]


[1]  It should be noted that a Hamas delegation, headed by the chair  of the movement's political bureau, Isma'il Haniya, visited Iran at the same time. In an interview on an Iranian television channel,  Haniya noted that both delegations had met with Qods Force commander Esmail Qaani (, June 22, 2023). 

[2], June 14, 19, 20, 2023.

[3] On Khamenei's call from about a decade ago to arm the West Bank, see MEMRI Clip No. 4366,         

Iran's Leader Khamenei: Armed Struggle Should Continue until Israel Is Destroyed by a Referendum, July 14, 2023; 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. Furthermore, in April 2023 IRGC Commander Hossein Salami hinted that Iran had supplied machine guns to West Bank fighters. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10588 – Iranian IRGC Commander Hossein Salami: 'Invisible Hands Armed The West Bank – And You [Now] See Modern Automatic Rifles And Automatic Weapons In The Hands Of The Palestinians', May 2, 2023.

[4] It should be noted that the July 2, 2023 editorial of the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida attacked Al-Nakhaleh for these statements, saying that they were intended to drive a wedge within Fatah and undermine the PA on instructions from Iran.

[5], June 30, 2023.

[6] IRNA (Iran), July 9, 2023.

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