By: Ilana Siyance
Following the savage terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel, the war continues to rage on with little view of an end in sight.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Iran and other allies have been and continue to smuggle a flood of weapons into the West Bank, in an effort to bolster Palestinian military capabilities and extend the war beyond Hamas’ capacity. For months before the brutal planned Oct. 7 massacre, smuggled guns, missiles, weapons, equipment and troops have been pouring into the West Bank, using drones, secret airline flights and a land bridge which spans hundreds of miles and crosses the borders of at least four countries- including Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
The expansive smuggling operation is a bid by multiple Arab countries to team up against Israel, and prolong the war. It also is becoming a growing impediment to Jordan, which borders Israel and the West Bank, and which has been trying to contain the flow arms, as per its peace agreements with the United States and Israel. “Iran wants to turn Jordan into a transit area for weapons going into Israel,” said Amer Al-Sabaileh, founder of Security Languages, a counterterrorism think tank in Amman. “But my fear is that the weapons might be used in Jordan as well. Where is the easiest place in the Middle East to punish the U.S. and the West? Jordan,” he said.
Per the WSJ, Iran has been working for years to strengthen Hamas, supplying the terrorist group with money, weapons and even training. The largest chunk of Iranian weapons to Palestinians is sent into the West Bank, particularly to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another militant group which has allied with Hamas and already has its name designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Europe, as per a senior Jordanian security official.
The source told the WSJ that the networks of smugglers, assisted by the Iranian-backed militia including Hezbollah as well as the Syrian government, are growing. “The weapons flow has really increased, specifically over the past year. This is because Iran has been much more focused on the West Bank recently, and trying to arm some of the groups there, especially the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is Iran’s more direct partner,” said Michael Horowitz, Israel-based head of intelligence at Le Beck International, a risk consulting company. “This probably explains part of the intelligence failure [during the Hamas attack], because Israel was more focused on the West Bank than Gaza,” Horowitz added. So in essence, the war Israel is fighting to defend its country, is not only against Hamas.
The smuggled weapons, equipment and troops are also moving in through the Syrian border into Jordan hidden in trucks going through official border crossings, or carried across the desert, and often times disguised as “aid” to the Palestinian people. Imported goods include Iranian replicas of U.S.-made Claymore antipersonnel mines, TNT and other explosives, M4-style assault rifles and handguns, the senior Jordanian official said. Jordanian officials, fearing backlash from the U.S. and Israel, have complained to Syrian and European allies, saying it can’t control the smuggling, and fears its relationship with Israel will suffer.
In February, Jordanian agents discovered unmanned aerial vehicles overhead from Syria carrying hand grenades. The commercial drones can be purchased cheap online and are surprisingly easy to maneuver, and are very hard to detect, another Jordanian security official responsible for monitoring the Syrian border told the WSJ.
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