During a visit to Tehran on December 29, 2018, Ziyad Nakhalah, leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), met with the top echelons of Iran’s leadership, including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran’s head of the Supreme Security Council, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani told Nakhalah, “Iran has always been supportive to the resistant and oppressed Palestinian people since the very start of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s establishment, which was inspired by our religious and humane beliefs and will continue until the complete victory of the resistance process.”

Shamkhani-Nakhala

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani (R) met Ziyad al-Nakhala, Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, in Tehran on December 30, 2018. (Photos from Iranian press)

 

Nakhalah gave an interview to the Iranian TV channel Al-Alam, in which he revealed the “Axis of Resistance” plan, led by Iran, to attack Israel from the north and the south. PIJ serves as Iran’s proxy in Gaza. Nakhalah’s statements were issued several days after his public meeting in Beirut with the leader of Hizbullah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

Nakhalah-Zarif

Ziyad Nakhalah of PIJ met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran.

“In the next confrontation with the occupation,” Nakhalah declared, “the axis of resistance will operate from the north [Lebanon] to the south [Gaza]. There will be open channels of collaboration, without any limitation or red lines. Each Israeli attack will be answered with a reaction from the entire axis of resistance. All forces will participate in it, as they will form a single axis. Iran supports the Palestinian resistance and the Hizbullah organization. The resistance is in its best situation. There have been qualitative developments in the capabilities of the Palestinian resistance. Next year, we will see big changes in favor of the resistance.”

“The entire ‘axis of resistance’ will work together in every confrontation that will arise. The resistance forces and their axis have a plan to struggle against the occupation. There is strategic coordination between the factions of the resistance in the Gaza Strip [Hamas and Islamic Jihad], and we will strengthen the joint operations room of the resistance factions,” Nakhalah emphasized.

He added: “We will emerge from beneath the ground and from above the ground. The occupation needs to expect us everywhere. I’m sure we will defeat the Zionist project, and this entity will disappear. We will continue with the resistance, and we will not withdraw from it. There will be victims, come what may.”

 

Ziyad Nakhala and Iran’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Al Quds brigade, during an earlier visit.

During the last week of December 2018, a delegation from Hamas also visited Iran, led by Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of the organization’s political bureau.

During the second half of January 2019, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is expected to pay a visit to Iran.

Iran is publicly strengthening its ties with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, while it acts to reinforce its military grip on Syria in order to open a new Golan Heights front against Israel with fighters from Hizbullah and pro-Shiite militias.

Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. He served as Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.