An article at the pro-Iran Al-Mayadeen media highlighted the presence of new weapons among Hamas members, especially since it was translated to English to reach a broader audience. The claim of new weapons, then, should be viewed in the context of Israel’s operation in Jenin earlier this month and Iran’s attempts to increase threats in the West Bank.
The report claimed that the “Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, announces that its fighters in Jenin have developed an Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP), or a self-forming warhead in Jenin.” The article adds that “the device newly introduced to the West Bank city of Jenin has armor-piercing capabilities which marks a huge leap forward for the Palestinian resistance in the city. Shawaz [‘flame’ in Arabic] looks to be similar to similar devices that were used by the Iraqi resistance against the US forces during their occupation.”
The article details more background, claiming that the weapons were used in Lebanon against Israeli forces and that their presence in Jenin “indicates a possible growing collaboration between various parties in the axis of resistance… Such devices possess capabilities to penetrate up to 200mm. of steel, according to some US military data. Al-Qassam Brigades stated the device was used to target occupation army vehicles in their last raid on Jenin and the Jenin refugee camp on July 3.”
The significance of a pro-Iran publication boasting that Hamas has access to weapons that were used in Lebanon and Iraq is important because they fold into the larger Iran scope of influence in the region. These are weapons with an Iranian origin, Iranian expertise and pedigree, that are part of Iran’s overall military-industrial-terror strategy in the Middle East.
Iran has in the past helped Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad expand their rocket arsenals. It has also been involved in sending drone technology to its proxies, especially the Houthis, but also the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq; the goal of this article is to say that this method has now expanded to the West Bank.
Analyses published over the last months raised the curtain on Jenin becoming more like Gaza: Rocket threats from the area have been reported, even though the rockets are so far rudimentary – as the rockets from Gaza once were.
EFPs central part of the Iranian octopus in the region
The fact remains that pro-Iranian media is now saying that Hamas is working with engineers “day and night to produce the largest number of containers and develop new models for them,” and that “the device, which was recently introduced to Jenin, has armor-piercing capabilities, a huge leap forward for Palestinian resistance.”
In June, The Washington Post reported that Iran was seeking to escalate attacks in Syria against US forces. Other reports from around that time indicate that US officials believed Iran was trying to move armor-piercing EFPs to Syria to target American military vehicles. In 2016, Michael Knights writing at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, noted that Iran “began sending advanced armor-piercing EFPs into the kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] last year and has provided cells in Bahrain with the know-how for manufacturing such weapons themselves – a stark warning to the Saudis and a harbinger of what may unfold if they do in fact upgrade their military commitment in Syria.”
The EFP is a system that has the stamp of the Iranian octopus on it, an octopus that is now saying it wants to try to do to Jenin and the northern West Bank what has been done in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen – a tentacle of Iran.