Iran and Israel’s southern front

Israelis following the escalation of rocket launches against southern Israel this past week probably noticed all the reports that the Palestinian organization behind the attacks was Islamic Jihad. There were approximately 40 rockets and mortars that were fired by the organization over a two day period. The current round of attacks began with the launch of a Grad rocket that hit near Gedera, on Wednesday, Oct. 26, which also happened to be the anniversary of the 1995 elimination of the founder of Islamic Jihad, Fathi Shakaki, in Malta.

Israel responded three days later by eliminating a five-man rocket squad from Islamic Jihad. It has been largely assumed that Hamas had no interest in escalation at this time since it is waiting for Israel to release from prison the next group from the Shalit exchange. The real explanations for the decision of Islamic Jihad to attack at this time, however, are not to be found in the Gaza Strip, but rather in Tehran.

The Islamic Jihad is a very different organization than Hamas. Shakaki, its main founder was disillusioned with the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent organization of Hamas. Instead he looked to Ayatollah Khomeini for inspiration and even wrote a book entitled "Khomeini: The Islamic Solution and Alternative." The admiration for Iran became a hallmark of Islamic Jihad and even led some of its activists in the 1990's to convert from Sunni Islam to Shiite Islam....

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