Hamas and its Palestinian militia allies have demonstrated skills that stem from years of Iranian training on how to fight Israel.
Palestinian sources said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard oversaw at least three years of intensive military training of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian forces. They said IRGC conducted training in Lebanon and Iran that focused on urban warfare, rocket and missile operations as well as tunnel attacks from the Gaza Strip.
“Our fighters want to prove that Gaza is a graveyard for the invaders and Gaza is unbreakable,” former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said.
The sources said IRGC focused on coordinated attacks, rocket fire and tunnel warfare. They said IRGC repeatedly urged Hamas to infiltrate and attack Israel in an effort to divert its ground forces and generate chaos.
The Iranian leadership also directed efforts to learn from Palestinian mistakes in the Israel-Gaza war in 2012. They said Hamas and Jihad were taught rocket and missile production as well as such asymmetrical combat that focused on the use of tunnels.
“IRGC was pleased with Palestinian rocket fire even during heavy Israeli bombings, but it was not happy with the absence of ground operations,” the source said.
On July 18, the London-based Al Monitor quoted a Palestinian official on IRGC training. The official, identified only as Amin, said Hamas and Jihad had been modifying and enhancing BM-21 Grad rockets smuggled from Egypt since 2011.
“Palestinian resistance experts, from Jihad and Hamas, each worked alone on building these rockets and some even added new specifications, equipping them with the needs of the field,” Amin said.
The sources said IRGC training was similar to that provided to Hizbullah nearly a decade ago. They said Iran regarded the Gaza Strip as a front in any regional war with Israel, which would include Lebanon and Syria.
“It’s safe to say that IRGC has been pleased with the Palestinian performance, especially in the high number of casualties among the Israelis,” the source said. “The level of combat displayed has been unprecedented.”