A Wall Street Journal editorial published Tuesday called attention to what the outlet described as Iran’s critical “role in fueling Middle East terror,” a dynamic that the Journal read alongside an ongoing Israeli campaign – Operation Protective Edge – to halt weeks of escalatory rocket and missile fire from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip:
More than 200 Palestinian rockets have descended on Israel in recent days, triggering an Israeli counteroffensive that was still taking shape as we went to press Tuesday. But as the drama plays out in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, it’s worth noting the role Iran—now under new and allegedly moderate leadership—has played in this latest spasm of violence.
The Journal specifically cited the March interdiction of a Panamanian-flag shipped whose cargo – which included advanced M-302 missiles – had reportedly traveled from Syria through Iran and Iraq before being stopped by Israeli commandos in the Red Sea en route to the Gaza Strip. Tehran’s denial of any involvement sits uneasily alongside a leaked United Nations report that seemingly confirms the Islamic republic’s role in the shipment while blasting Tehran for violating a UNSC embargo on Iranian arms transfers.
Israeli Defense Forces Spokesperson Peter Lerner, speaking this week on the recent barrage of rockets, noted that the launch Tuesday of an M-302 rocket was confirmation that Iran has been supplying Gaza with weapons:
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Tuesday’s first launch of the Syrian-made M-302 rocket toward northern Israel proved that Iran was indeed supplying Gaza with the weapons, and that some had slipped through despite Israel’s efforts.
He said Israel suspects Hamas still possesses dozens of other such missiles with a range of more than 160 kilometres, putting 5 million Israelis within their reach.
“We know when we are successful in stopping them. Obviously, they have been successful in smuggling some of these in,” Lerner said. “We know there are these rockets in Gaza they have longer range, they have more firepower and they are more accurate.”
Accusations of Iranian support to Gaza are nothing new – the 2013 State Department Report on Terrorism, published in April, blasted Tehran for having “historically provided weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.”
[Photo: The New York Times / YouTube]