Thousand of Basij soldiers stage mock seige of Temple Mount in Iran.
(photo credit: FARS)
If anyone needed proof how the lifting of sanctions on Iran will hurt Israel’s security, this week provided two examples.
Just days after implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement, we received a reminder that Iran and its proxies remain dangerous enemies of Israel.
Five Palestinians from the Tulkarm area were arrested for planning to carry out terrorist attacks under instructions from Hezbollah, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said on Wednesday.
The head of the cell, Mahmoud Za’alul, had been recruited through social media networks. Using encrypted messages, he enlisted five more men from the Tulkarm area; they were ordered to gather intel and plan terrorist attacks, including preparing explosive vests for suicide bombings.
Hezbollah funded their operation by sending them $5,000 through money changers.
Now that the “crippling” economic sanctions on Iran have been removed, the resources at its disposal – and as an extension at Hezbollah’s – will be significantly greater.
In Lebanon, meanwhile, Hezbollah is consolidating its political power. On Monday, in a development that is nothing short of earth shattering, Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces party, publicly endorsed his rival, the formal general Michel Aoun, for president of Lebanon.
In so doing, Geagea abandoned his loyalty to Saad Hariri, head of the anti-Syrian Future (Al-Mustaqbal) Movement, for an alliance with the enemy camp headed by Hezbollah, which supports Aoun for president.
This opens the way to the appointment of a pro-Iranian president in Lebanon.
Hezbollah and Iran are undoubtedly pleased with the development. If Aoun is elected president, Hariri’s influence – and the influence of Hariri’s main patron, Saudi Arabia – will be greatly diminished.
Finally, in the Gaza Strip, Iran has over the past few months been providing funding to a new terrorist group called Al-Sabireen Movement for Supporting Palestine. Al-Sabireen, which means “the patient ones” in Arabic, was formed in the wake of a break between Tehran and the two largest terrorist organizations operating in Gaza – Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Neither organization has acquiesced to Iran’s demand to support President Bashar Assad in Syria.
Both have incensed the Iranians by remaining silent on Saudi attacks in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Houthis. Both face their worst financial crisis in two decades after Iran’s decision to cut off support.
Al-Sabireen’s emblem – a gun sprouting from the center of its name in Arabic – is nearly identical to Hezbollah’s.
So far, the organization has about 400 followers in the Gaza Strip, each one receiving a monthly salary of $250-$300, while the senior officials get at least $700, according to The Jerusalem Post’s Palestinian Affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh. Iran has been supplying Al-Sabireen with weapons used to attack Israel.
The Iranians are believed to have supplied their new terrorist group in the Gaza Strip with Grad and Fajr missiles that are capable of reaching Tel Aviv. Also, Iranian funds channeled through Al-Sabireen are said to be used to support the families of killed or arrested terrorists living on the West Bank.
The Iranian-backed organization is also wooing Fatah members. Scores of militiamen once belonging to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction in the Gaza Strip have allied themselves with Al-Sabireen. Most were attracted by the money.
The rise of an unshackled Iran’s influence in the region is bad for Israel. But it is also bad for many of the US’s Sunni allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority. A shared enemy has created a shared interest – the curtailing of Iranian influence.
Implementation of the JCPOA might delay Tehran’s nuclear weapon program. The removal of sanctions, however, has set the stage for the Islamic Republic to increase its destabilizing influence. Iran and its proxies must be stopped.