Israeli Forces, Palestinian Militants Clash in Jenin After Terror Wave Continues to Rock Israel

Israeli Forces, Palestinian Militants Clash in Jenin After Terror Wave Continues to Rock Israel

Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Israeli Forces, Palestinian Militants Clash in Jenin After Terror Wave Continues to Rock Israel

Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian militants in Jenin in the West Bank this week, as Israeli security forces launched Operation Break the Wave in response to a recent uptick in Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), and Border Police arrested Palestinians in Jenin, Nablus, Zeita, Yamun, Balata, al-Khader, Beit Kahil, and 'Azzun 'Atma. Soldiers found weapons and arrested Palestinians suspected of aiding terrorist activities in Zeita. In Jenin and nearby villages, soldiers from Sayeret Golani, the Shin Bet, and Border Police clashed with armed terrorists who threw explosives at them. No injuries were reported among Israeli forces. 

As the operation continued, six Palestinians were reportedly killed in clashes with Israeli troops late Wednesday and early Thursday, according to Palestinian reports. According to unconfirmed reports, one of the Palestinians killed in Jenin was the brother of Ayman Kamaji, one of the prisoners who escaped from Israel’s Gilboa Prison last year. 

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) each issued statements in response to the Israeli Operation. Hamas called on Palestinians to “rise up…in defense of Al-Aqsa, to prevent the plot to ‘slaughter sacrifices’ on the so-called Passover holiday.” PIJ also called on “Palestinians everywhere to rise up, to clash with the Occupation, and defend al-Aqsa,” including Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Arab Israelis. It also called on the “blood of the martyrs the spark of the total confrontation on the path of liberation.” Earlier, the heads of the Gaza-based Palestinian militant groups declared a “general mobilization in all places where our people are located,” calling on “the masses to come out in the hundreds of thousands to protect our nation and [Al-Aqsa] mosque” after Hamas’ leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar convened a meeting with his counterparts. 

Sources in Hamas who spoke with Haaretz noted that the group, and other militant factions in Gaza, do not intend to fire rockets at Israel now, but are waiting to see how matters evolve on the ground. Instead, these groups are concentrating their efforts on inciting violence in the West Bank as Ramadan, Passover, and Easter all take place this month. 


Israel Conducts Rare Daytime Raid on Syria 

Israel reportedly carried out a rare daytime raid targeting sites near Masyaf in northeastern Syria, according to Syrian reports. According to Syrian Army sources quoted by regime outlet SANA, the Israeli airstrike was carried out from over northern Lebanon and targeted several areas in central Syria. The outlet claimed the Israeli strike caused material damage only, and no casualties. 

UAE Investors Weigh Investing in Syria as Ties Between Damascus and Abu Dhabi Warm 

Emirati investors seek to inject funds into the Syrian economy, particularly its renewable energy sector, according to the head of the Syrian Investment Authority. A report that originally appeared in pro-regime Al-Watan noted that Syrian and Emirati investors partnered to submit project proposals to Damascus’ electricity ministry. 

News of the interest in Emirati investment in Syria comes after President Bashar al-Assad visited the UAE in March, in his first official visit to an Arab country since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in 2011. There, he met with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed and Prime Minister Mohammad bin Rashed. 


Iran Linked to Smuggling Network from Iraq to Assist Russia in Ukraine 

The Guardian reports that Russia is receiving munitions and military hardware sourced from Iraq for its war effort in Ukraine with the help of Iranian weapons smuggling networks. According to the piece, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles in the possession of Hashd al-Shaabi were transported to Iran through the Salamja border crossing on March 26. There is pro-Putin sentiment among Iran-backed militias in Iraq, with a giant poster being erected of the Russian president in Baghdad last month before being taken down. Thus, this development is not surprising. Moscow and Tehran are also likely leveraging the expiration of the U.N. arms embargo on Iran under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in October 2020. 

New Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Announced 

This week, Iran’s Foreign Ministry revealed that the Iranian ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi would be leaving his post and that Mohammad Kazem Al-e Sadeq would be his replacement. Not much is known about Al-e Sadeq’s background, except that he was born in Iraq, comes from a prominent religious family, served for years in the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, including as a political advisor and deputy to Masjedi, and was close with the late Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani. Given the careers of his predecessors, it is assumed Al-e Sadeq is a Quds Force officer as well. This is a critical post for Tehran as its ambassador helps manage, manipulate, and meddle in Baghdad to preserve Iranian interests—especially after Soleimani’s death. 


Quds Force Commander Delivers Lengthy Speech on Iran’s Regional Strategy

On Thursday, the Commander of Iran’s IRGC Quds Force Esmail Ghaani delivered a lengthy speech at a memorial ceremony for former Deputy Commander of the Quds Force Mohammad Hejazi, who died under mysterious circumstances last year. On Hejazi, Ghaani noted, “one of the steps of Martyr Hejazi to achieve martyrdom was his sincerity, and although he was the deputy commander of the IRGC, he came and became the deputy commander of the Quds Force and did his job with seriousness and effort.” 

Amid the wave of Palestinian terror attacks, Ghaani noted, “we are in the middle of the battlefield. The Islamic Republic of Iran is at the forefront of the scene against global arrogance and international Zionism, and we will continue on the path of their honor and greatness, thanks to the martyrs.” He praised attacks on Israelis as “manifestations of their helplessness [of Israel] and the strength of the Resistance Front, which, thank God, is growing everyday thanks to the blood of the great martyrs.” 

On Lebanon, Ghaani proclaimed that today “the heroes of the resistance in Lebanon, led by Hassan Nasrallah, have gained so much control over this field and region that the regime that dreamed of the Nile to the Euphrates today builds concrete walls with a height of more than six meters so that no one can penetrate into this [underground bunkers of Hezbollah], and in some places up to 30 meters of steel columns sink into the ground.” Ghaani further warned Israel had been seeking to “show its emergence,” but added “we know well where you are, an example of which was in Erbil”—alluding to the IRGC’s missile attack on the villa of a Kurdish businessman last month. 

On Yemen, Ghaani called the Iran-backed Houthis “new sons of the revolution” who are “building the major new weapons they use inside their country…they build missiles with a range of over 1,000 kilometers and drones with a range of over 1,5000 kilometers, and all these operations are carried out using tools and facilities in tunnels and basements, under enemy bombardment.” 

This speech represented a tour of Iran’s regional strategy and came after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave remarks earlier in the week to Iranian officials where he praised the Palestinians as awake after the recent attacks in Israel. Khamenei also asked Saudi Arabia “why do you continue a war which you know there’s no possibility of winning? Find a way to pull yourselves out of this war.” Put together, these public statements showcased how Iran’s regional strategy will remain unchanged—with or without a nuclear deal. It also represented a rejoinder to demands by Washington for Iran to alter its behavior in return for a delisting of the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.