Iran was surprised to wake up this morning to a new Israeli operation in Gaza. On Tuesday, Israel’s Operation Shield and Arrow targeted Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
The IDF said that they had targeted ten weapon manufacturing sites and military compounds belonging to the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.
Iran is watching Israel's moves closely, and this is not the first time that the IDF have targeted the PIJ, which is widely seen as a proxy of Iran.
Back in 2019, Israel launched Operation Black Belt which was a precision strike on Baha Abu al-Ata, a senior terrorist in the Islamic Jihad. Israel saw that operation as an intelligence and operational achievement that continued to hinder the capabilities of Islamic Jihad for years. In 2018 Israel also launched Operation House of Cards in Syria after Iran fired rockets at Israel.
Iranian pro-regime media linked to the IRGC has heavily covered the new operation. Iran’s Tasnim says that PIJ’s Saraya al-Quds, the so-called “armed wing” of PIJ, has been struck and it has lost several commanders. Iran spins this as an acceptable blow it can recover from claiming that this will “increase the determination” of Islamic Jihad.
Iran also claims civilians were killed, claiming a daughter of PIJ commander Khalil Salah al-Bahtini was killed. It also claims that the son of PIJ member Tariq Muhammad Ezzidin was killed. “After the brutal attacks this morning by the Zionist regime to assassinate three leaders of the Islamic Jihad movement, Israel reported to Egypt the assassination of three commanders of the Quds Brigades,” Iran’s media said.
Iran continues to label Israeli defense as unnecessary
Iran now has tried to spin this operation as one in which PIJ and Hamas could respond. It says that the Hamas leaders have condemned the operation as “cowardly.” Iran is very focused on this operation and will likely consider how best to respond.
The operation was widely covered in the region. It is a top story in Turkish media amid the Turkish election campaign. It is a top story in the UAE and the Gulf as well. This means that the region is watching this development closely. Turkey’s state TRT media headlined the attack operation as “Israel kills armed group commanders, civilians in deadly Gaza air strikes.” Meanwhile, the same Turkish state media claimed that Turkey had vowed to “drain terror swamp” by attacking armed groups in Iraq and Syria.
“Türkiye will resolutely continue to fight against terrorist organizations both at home and in northern Syria and Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.” Turkey’s TRT said “Israeli aircraft have conducted strikes on Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, the Israeli military said, and the armed group said three senior commanders were killed in the attacks.”
Turkey refers to Islamic Jihad, which is a terrorist group, as an “armed group,” while claiming to fight its own war on terrorism. This is an illustration of how some media in the region do not see groups such as the Iranian-backed PIJ as terrorist organizations.
Iran has recently signed a new reconciliation deal with Saudi Arabia, while at the same time, the Arab states have invited Syria to return to the Arab League. This could mean that Iran could try to exploit the situation in Gaza to create tensions and threats to Israel from Syria. Iran has done this in the past. Over the Passover holiday Iran likely coordinated with Hamas to fire rockets from Lebanon with Hezbollah’s permission, and then to have rockets fired by Liwa al-Quds from Syria.