The commander of Iran‘s elite Revolutionary Guards has publicly admitted that his forces supplied the Islamic militant group Hamas with the knowhow to develop Fajr-5 missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv.
“We haven’t sent any weapons to Gaza because it is under blockade,” Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by Iran’s Young Journalists Club news agency on Wednesday. “But we are honoured to announce that we gave them the technology of how to make Fajr-5 missiles and now they have their hands on plenty of them.”
Jafar’s remarks are a rare admission by such a high profile regime official that Tehran has supported Hamas militarily.
On Saturday, Hamas claimed to have fired a Fajr-5 missile at Tel Aviv, Israel‘s second most populous city, but Israel said the rocket was shot down by an anti-missile battery. Iranian officials initially distanced themselves from accusations they were supplying Hamas but now appear to be boasting about their role in enabling Palestinians to build their own Fajr-5 missiles, which have a range of up to 46.6 miles (75km).
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, an influential MP who heads the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, had said at the weekend that the accusations were unfounded.
But the Speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, echoed Jafari’s comments on Wednesday in saying that Tehran’s support for Palestinians had military dimensions.
“We are honoured that our help has material and military aspects, and these Arab countries that sit and hold meetings should know that the nation of Palestine does not need words or meetings,” he said, according to quotes carried by the semi-official Fars news agency.
“Our message is that if Arab countries want to help the nation of Palestine they should give military assistance.”
It was not clear from Larijani’s comment whether Iran had actually smuggled Fajr-5 missiles into the Gaza Strip or if he merely went as far as the commander’s remarks.
Meanwhile, Fars, which is affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards, published an article boasting about the capabilities of Fajr-5, which it said “changed the scene of the war between Israel and Palestinians”.
“The world class Fajr-5 is a solid fuel, non-fixed wing, 333mm rocket designed and optimised for artillery missions to hit enemy’s command and control, logistic, radar, communication, economic and political centres,” Fars said. “It is a rocket with 75km range, a payload of 178kg and speed of 1,009 metres per second.”
Earlier this year, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word on all state matters, said Iran would help any group that fights against the “cancer” of Israel.
“We have intervened in anti-Israel matters, and it brought victory in the 33-day war by Hezbollah against Israel in 2006, and in the 22-day war [between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip],” he said in February.
“From now on, in any place, if any nation or any group confronts the Zionist regime, we will endorse and we will help. We have no fear expressing this,” he said at the time.
On Wednesday, Khamenei also called on the Arab world to help “the oppressed people of Gaza” and intervene for an end to its blockade by Israel.