Tehran (AFP) – The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday that Palestinians were “not alone” in their fight against Israel as they faced a second day of airstrikes in Gaza.
“Today, all anti-Zionist jihadi capabilities are on the scene in a joint formation working to liberate Jerusalem and uphold the rights of the Palestinian people,” Major General Hossein Salami said in a statement on the Guards’ Sepah news website.
“We are with you until the end of this journey and let Palestine and Palestinians know that they are not alone,” he told Ziad al-Nakhla, head of the Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad, during a meeting in Tehran.
Israel said it launched a “preemptive” operation against Islamic Jihad on Friday to prevent an attack after days of heightened tensions along the Gaza border.
A senior commander of the group was killed in an airstrike on Gaza City on Friday, one of a wave of attacks on the territory.
A five-year-old girl was among the 12 people killed in the Israeli bombardment, the Gaza Health Ministry said. More than 80 people have been injured.
Palestinian militants responded with a barrage of rocket fire into Israel, the worst flare-up in the region since last year’s war.
Salami stressed that the Palestinian response had begun a “new chapter” and that Israel had to pay “another heavy price for the recent crime”.
“The Palestinian resistance today is stronger than in the past,” he said, adding that militant groups had found “the ability to manage major wars.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned Israel’s “brutal attack” on Gaza.
President Ibrahim Raisi said Israel had “once again demonstrated to the world its occupation and aggressive nature,” according to a statement from his office.
Iran is a major supporter of Islamic Jihad and Nakhla has met Raisi and other officials during his visit.
Israel has accused Iran of smuggling weapons to Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza. In March last year, it intercepted two Iranian drones loaded with weapons bound for Gaza.