Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran join to incite terror against Israel
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Iran is using tensions over Jerusalem as an excuse to lead other extremist groups in the region to push for terror attacks against Israel.
It is important to understand the timeline here. The tensions in Jerusalem go back to late April, when Ramadan began, Israeli police restricted access to Damascus Gate and a series of TikTok videos showed Arabs attacking religious Jews.
There have also been tensions in Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem, protests that escalated in early May.
On April 22, dozens were wounded in Jerusalem after a far-right Jewish group clashes with Muslims at Damascus Gate. Hamas in Gaza said Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque were being threatened, and warned that the “gates of hell” could open, a reference to war with Israel.
Fast forward to Friday, before the clashes on Temple Mount. In preparation for “Quds Day” – a day that Iran and its allies in the region highlight as a way to centralize focus on Jerusalem and increase incitement against Israel – a series of statements were made.
Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote that “the Palestinians’ endeavors and the pure blood of resistance martyrs have managed to multiply Palestinian Jihad’s internal power by hundreds of times. Once, Palestinian youth defended themselves by throwing stones, but today they respond to the enemy’s attacks with precision missiles.”
This coincided with Hamas warning that Israel was going to “sabotage al-Aqsa.” The Iranian leader also said that “on the issue of Palestine, all Muslim states and nations are responsible, but the Palestinians themselves are the axis of Jihad.”
From Gaza to Tehran, the insinuation was clear: A coordinated message inflaming tensions around Jerusalem, weaving together conspiracies and calling for violence. There was less mention of Sheikh Jarrah in the statements, making it clear that current protest was not necessarily a central issue.
At the same time, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a long speech slamming Israel. He said the recent stampede at Mount Meron, where 45 people were killed, demonstrated Israel’s “lack of preparation to confront war.”
His point was that Israel is not ready for mass casualties. “Now, the Israelis are also fearful of a security conflagration with the Palestinians,” he said.
David Daoud, an expert on Hezbollah, transcribed most of his speech online. “Regarding the IDF – I won’t say the IDF is weak, but it’s not as strong as [Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv] Kohavi would have us believe,” Nasrallah claimed.
The statements by Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran are not isolated. They occurred as a coordinated message, and the message was not just about Quds Day. They were preparing the ground for further violence. Hamas flags were being brought to demonstrations in Jerusalem at the same time as the statements.
This is also a Hamas ploy for power in Jerusalem, a city it has had a foothold in but in where it has had difficulty raising its head. It is a Hamas ploy for power in the West Bank after the Palestinian Authority postponed elections.
It is also a way for Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas to appear relevant. They also want to drive a wedge between Israel and its new peace partners in the Gulf, knowing that the violence in Jerusalem will pressure Bahrain, the UAE and others to make statements.
Similarly, they want to inflame tensions in Jordan. They know that Saudi Arabia has sought to tone down tensions with Iran and has been discussing rapprochement with Iran in Iraq, and with Turkey and Syria.
For Iran, this is a perfect opportunity to push tensions with Israel using the Jerusalem issue. Iran knows that on other fronts, whether nuclear weapons or entrenchment in Syria, it faces hurdles.
However, it has long sought to play an increasing role in Palestinian affairs.
Iran’s media is pushing the line that Israel is in decline. The IRGC has made statements about how Israel’s “security bubble” has been burst.
Iran’s Press TV now highlights Nasrallah and how other Muslim countries are condemning Israel. Hamas, on Saturday warned Israel not to “play with fire.” He has singled out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in this statement, not noting the current political turmoil in Israel after Israel’s elections.
On Saturday afternoon, thousands of Palestinians were reportedly trying to make their way to Jerusalem as part of the protests and their desire to “defend” Al-Aqsa. The bubbling crisis could now affect Israeli relations with the Gulf and may also spark the interest of Washington and Europe.