The pro-Iran website Al-Mayadeen celebrated the alleged rocket threat that is emerging in the northern West Bank against Israel. According to their report the Al-Ayyash terrorist group, which it says is part of Hamas’s Al-Qassam brigades, had threatened Israel with a “Qassam 1 rocket.”
Images and videos were posted online by Hamas-linked media. The report claimed that the rocket was used on Tisha Be’Av due to Israelis ascending the Temple Mount. The rocket incident is not the first of its kind in the northern West Bank and it appears to be part of a growing pattern. It is also used by Iran and Iran's allies to fuel their perception that Israel is facing increasing threats.
The overall context here is that the images of the rocket are more about a psychological and symbolic war against Israel. For instance, Iranian media has often highlighted Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s claims that Israel is falling apart internally.
Taken together the various threats, from Hezbollah’s provocations on the northern border, to the rocket in the northern West Bank, and Iran’s actions in Syria, all point to a larger process.
This is an attempt to “unify” various fronts against Israel.
Iran media cycle looks to unify fronts against Israel
Back in March, an article at the Institute for National Security Studies warned about this issue of perception. Orna Mizrahi and Yoram Schweitzer wrote that “the internal crisis and the widespread protests in Israel, together with the escalation of Palestinian terror, reinforce Nasrallah’s perception that Israel’s internal weakness is overwhelming, and persuade him of Hezbollah’s ability to deter and confront Israel in the event of a military conflict.” They went on to reference Nasrallah’s reference to Israel being like a “spider web.”
That report added that “Israel’s current internal crisis could infuse Nasrallah with unfounded confidence that fails to take account of the real balance of forces between the parties and the intensity of how Israeli society unites in the face of external threats.”
It is important to understand how the pro-Iran media nexus operates in this context.
How do Iranian, anti-Zionist media outlets operate?
Media such as Al-Mayadeen, Fars News in Iran or others tend to re-report what they read in Israeli media. For instance, they will report that Israeli experts or commentators have warned about threats to Israel. Then they use these warnings to affirm their own belief that their propaganda has worked.
For instance, several days ago a video emerged of Hezbollah members near the border with Israel. When this report was covered by Israeli media, the pro-Iran media then reported that Israel was concerned about another incident like the attack that led to the 2006 war. In essence, this is a feedback loop. The loop occurs like this: Hezbollah or Hamas or another group will do something, then that “thing” will be reported in Israeli media and then the pro-Iran media machine uses the Israeli reports of the “thing” to affirm their own view that the “thing” successfully threatened Israel. This “thing” could be a Hezbollah member walking near the border, or an image of a simple rocket in the northern West Bank.
The feedback loop then affirms the narrative in the Iranian regime and its octopus-like affiliate groups, that Iran is succeeding against Israel. it is “unifying” the fronts and the Israeli “spider web” is weak. In a recent research by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Joe Truzman, he pointed to Iran and its “network of nineteen terrorist organizations on Israel’s borders.” He noted that “over the last four decades, the Iranian regime has built a network of armed groups on Israel’s borders to create instability and foment terrorism. Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and a mosaic of other terrorist organizations receive funding, training, and weapons from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Force (IRGC-QF).”
The groups include Hamas, Hezbollah, Liwa al-Quds and many others. In essence, Iran can use these groups like keys on a piano, playing them to the tune it wants and then using that tune to achieve the feedback it wants.
Iran also seeks to feed off other destabilizing factors and chaos in the region and around Israel’s borders. In an article called ‘Guns, Drugs, and Smugglers: A Recent Heightened Challenge at Israel’s Borders with Jordan and Egypt,’ By Matthew Levitt and Lauren von Thaden at the CTC Sentinel, the authors highlighted other challenges. The report notes that “the guns and drugs that are flowing into Israel are creating societal problems and public safety issues.”
Furthermore, “this increased arms smuggling occurred against the backdrop of over a year and a half of violence that began with an 11-day battle between Israeli forces and Hamas in May 2021 and continued through a string of terror attacks in the spring of 2022 that prompted a sweeping Israeli military campaign with nightly West Bank raids targeting terrorist operatives.”
The issue here is that Iran also plays a role in supporting the smuggling of weapons and it feeds off the destabilization. It feeds off the vacuum of power in the northern West Bank and it also sees violence in Israel as an example of the weakness of Israel at this time.
Therefore, although the rocket in the West Bank isn’t directly connected to the smuggling phenomenon, the guns that are being moved to groups in the West Bank create the conditions for the potential rocket fire and this feeds the Iranian media cycle that perceives Israel as vulnerable.