Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, display home-made rockets during an anti-Israel military parade, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 21, 2016.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)
Hamas denied the presence of missiles in the Gaza Strip that are directed towards Persian Gulf states, after Iraqi politician Ayad Allawi said in an interview with Iraq’s Al-Sharqiya television network that Israel has discovered and photographed ballistic missile pads in the Gaza Strip.
“According to the information I have, the Israeli intelligence has discovered and taken photos of the missile pads after the Israelis attacked Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” he said. “They handed the photos of the ballistic and other missiles to the Americans.”
Allawi said that according to information he has received, there are also missile pads in the Iraqi city of Basra.
“The missile pads in the Gaza Strip, Syria and Iran are directed towards the Gulf states,” he said. “The Americans have seen the photos. I heard this from an important American official with whom I recently met. He told me this in the presence of two other Iraqis.”
Allawi said that the Americans decided to come to Baghdad to investigate the matter and confer with Iraqi officials. “They came here and discovered that the matter was becoming more serious,” he added.
The US-backed Allawi served as vice president of Iraq from 2014 to 2015, and also as the country’s interim prime minister from 2004 to 2005.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who made a surprise visit to Iraq earlier this month, is reported to have told Iraqi officials that US intelligence showed Iran-backed militias moved missiles near bases housing American forces, according to Reuters.
Allawi’s disclosure about the missiles in the Gaza Strip is the first of its kind made by an Arab official.
Salah Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, denied Allawi’s claims on Thursday, and accused him of parroting charges dictated to him by “Zionists.”
“We don’t direct our weapons against our own chest,” Bardaweel said on Twitter. “What happened to the Arab officials?”
Palestinian political analyst Ashraf Saleh said that even if the Iraqi politician’s claims about the presence of Iranian ballistic missiles in the Gaza Strip were accurate, this means that they don’t belong to Hamas – a hint that the missiles are in the possession of Iran’s proxy Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
“At this phase, Hamas is working to normalize its relations with all Arab regimes,” Saleh said. “It’s not in Hamas’s interest to have hostile relations with the Arab regimes. It’s possible that these missiles belong to a Palestinian faction strongly linked to Iran. This faction is not politically restricted and is not afraid of losing power because of its hostility to any Arab country.”
The political analyst said he ruled out the possibility that Iran would use PIJ to attack the Gulf states. The Iranians, he noted, “may support Islamic Jihad with advanced missiles to strike Israel,” he said.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>