Iran has supplied military assistance to Hamas in Gaza, including technology needed to build long-range Fajr-5 rockets used to target Tel Aviv, a military leader from the Islamic republic said.
“Gaza is under siege, so we cannot help them. The Fajr-5 missiles have not been shipped from Iran. Its technology has been transferred and (the missiles are) being produced quickly,” the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by the semiofficial ISNA news agency on Wednesday.
Israel has long accused Iran of supplying Hamas with its Fajr 5 missile, which has been used to target Tel Aviv and Jerusalem since the Israeli Defense Force’s (IDF) ongoing military operation in Gaza was launched one week ago.
Iranian lawmaker Ali Larijani said on Wednesday his country was “proud” to defend the people of Palestine and Hamas according to remarks published on the Islamic Republic’s parliamentary website.
Larijani stressed the assistance had been both “financial and military.” On Tuesday, Larijani lauded the Palestinian missile capability, saying it had given them a “strategic [source] of power.”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadhan Abdallah Shalah also told Al-Jazeera TV on Tuesday: “the weapons that are fighting the Israeli aggression and arrogance in Palestine come mainly from Iran, as the entire world knows. This is no secret. These are either Iranian weapons or weapons financed by Iran.”
On Thursday two Fajr rockets struck on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, marking the first time the metropolitan area had been targeted with missiles since the Gulf War. Two more Fajr-5 missiles launched towards the city were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system on Saturday, while another pair of rockets exploded on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Two more errant rockets targeting Jerusalem landed in the West Bank on Tuesday. No casualties have been reported from any of the strikes.
The Iranian produced Fajr-5 missile has an approximate range of 75 kilometers, which far exceeds the more mobile Palestinian-made Qassam rockets which came into use following the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2001.
The introduction of long-range missiles into Hamas’ arsenal came as a surprise to the Israeli military, who had initially viewed Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as out of play in the run up to Operation Pillar of Defense.
The IDF was forced to revise infographics enumerating the Hamas rocket threat following the introduction of the Fajr rockets into the conflict. Israel’s Iron Dome system has mostly neutralized this Hamas’ newly acquired threat, however, with the periodic air raid sirens having more of a psychological impact than a material one.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei was highly critical of other Muslim states for not standing behind Gaza during the week-long Israeli military operation that has seen at least 140 Palestinians killed following a thousand-plus IDF airstrikes.
“Some of them sufficed with words, and some others did not condemn [Israel],” the official Islamic Republic News Agency cites Khamenei as saying.