People attend a public speech of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the southern Hormozgan province, Iran, February 17, 2019.
(photo credit: OFFICIAL KHAMENEI WEBSITE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Pro-Hezbollah and pro-Iran regime media and social media accounts lit up on Thursday night, after two rockets were fired at Tel Aviv from Gaza. It indicates the close attention paid to tensions in Israel between Israel and terrorist groups in Gaza.
Lebanon’s satellite TV station Al-Mayadeen, which is generally supportive of the Syrian regime and Hezbollah, wrote a story within minutes of the reports of Iron Dome being activated. “Occupation admits that Palestinians bomb ‘Tel Aviv,’” the headline read. Relying on Israel’s Channel 12, the article noted that booms were heard in central Israel and that bomb shelters might be opened.
Similarly, Tasnim News Agency in Iran wrote up the article noting that Iron Dome had intercepted the rockets. Shehab News, which is supportive of Hamas, posted video and news on the rocket fire. Hezbollah’s Al-Manar also reported the rocket fire. Hossein Dalirian, director of defense coverage for Tansim News, tweeted that two Fajr-5 rockets were fired at Tel Aviv. It wasn’t clear why he specified the Fajr-5, which was developed by Iran and supplied to Islamic Jihad in Gaza. This rocket was used in 2012 to strike at Tel Aviv and has a range of at least 75 km. Hamas also used them in 2012. Dalirian noted that this was the first time a rocket had been fired over Tel Aviv in five years.
Palestinian media, relying on Israeli reports, pointed to Islamic Jihad as a culprit. But Islamic Jihad itself was more circumspect after the firing. Social media sources supportive of Islamic Jihad claimed that it was mere rumors that pointed to them as the source of the rocket fire.
The rocket fire came amid inclement weather blanketing Israel and Gaza. Hamas had dispersed protesters earlier in the afternoon. The terrorist organization is preparing for the first anniversary of its “Great March of Return” and is under stress because of the economic deterioration in Gaza, relying on cash payments from Qatar for bare essentials. This means that it must concentrate anger at Israel and does not want internal protests.
With the Israeli elections approaching, there are also concerns about Iranian meddling. Islamic Jihad is close to Iran and fired rockets last year at Israel during tensions. At the time, Iran was accused of being behind the rocket fire.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Thursday that Iran must “mobilize all its resources” against external enemies: “the US and the Zionists.” His comments could be indicative of a message to threaten Israel. It comes as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wraps up a major trip to Iraq and after Tehran carried out a major drone exercise this week.
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