The leader of the Palestinian branch of Islamic Jihad has confirmed that the longer range, more sophisticated rockets being launched at Tel Aviv and Jersusalem were supplied by Iran.
The deputy leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziad Nakhleh, has said that rockets fired by Hamas and the "Palestinian resistance" at Israeli towns and cities are of Iranian origin, Lebanon's el-Nashra newspaper reported on Monday.
Some of the weapons were manufactured locally in an Iranian factory, Nakhleh said, adding that the rockets Hamas has fired at Tel Aviv have a range of "up to 80 kilometers."
However, Nakhleh denied that the escalation of violence by Hamas and Islamic Jihad equated to the implementation of a scenario devised by Iran.
"Did Iran tell Israel to kill [Hamas military wing de facto leader Ahmed] Jabari?" Nakhleh said.
Israel has said that the long-range rockets that Hamas has fired at more northern targets - including Tel Aviv - are Iranianmade Fajr-5 artillery rockets.
Iran's Lebanese proxy Hezbollah had also fired Fajr-5 rockets - which the terror group named Khaibar-1 rockets - at Israel during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. With a range of approximately 75 kilometers and a 45-kilogram warhead, the Fajr-5 is launched from a mobile platform that contains up to four rockets per launcher.
In a speech over the weekend, Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah praised Hamas for firing Fajr-5 rockets at Israel, saying that the launch of the Iranian missiles was a "major development" in Hamas's conflict with Israel.
Following Nasrallah's remarks, Iran moved to distance itself on Sunday from the charge that it is involved in supplying Hamas with weapons. The chairman of Iran's Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said "the resistance" does not need Iranian rockets and claimed Iran's support for Hamas extended only to "spiritual support."
On Monday, however, Iran's Persian-language Fars News, which is closely affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, published a lengthy article examining the role of the Fajr family of artillery rockets in Tehran's asymmetric warfare doctrine.
Hezb'allah has even more sophisticated rockets from Iran that feature ranges of more than a hundred miles. These would be very hard to smuggle into Gaza and then hide from Israeli intelligence, Then again, those Fajr rockets couldn't have been easy to smuggle either.
It's clear that the Iranians are offering Hamas far more than "spiritual support." It's also a certainty that their influence on Hamas is far broader than once thought. It's a dangerous game the Iranians are playing and Israel may very well make them regret it.