The latest round of violence began on March 9 after an Israeli airstrike killed Zuhair al-Qaissi, the head of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a group with deep ties to Iran-backed Hizbullah. The PRC’s logo – featuring an arm brandishing an automatic weapon – borrows liberally from the Hizbullah flag (which in turns borrows from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps). The PRC launched at least 85 rockets at Israel. Palestinian Islamic Jihad – whose primary patron is also Iran, according to the U.S. intelligence committee – launched more than 185.
Iranian leaders are clearly irked that Hamas has refused to stand by Syria’s Assad, a key strategic figure for Tehran in the region. Iran is using its smaller proxies, the PRC and PIJ, to create unrest on Hamas’s turf. The current crisis reveals that, for Iran, Hamas is expendable. The writer, a former counterterrorism analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department, is vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(Jonathan Schanzer – Foreign Policy)