A feature by the Now Lebanon news website describes the evolution of the Arab-Iranian weapons smuggling network to the Gaza Strip in the backdrop of recent discussion on the source of the rockets used by Palestinian terrorists against Israel
during Operation Pillar of Defense.
The report was prepared by Lebanese journalist and Hezbollah
sympathizer Kassem Kasir.
According to the sources quoted in the article, Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon met with Syrian President Bashar Assad
after 2006's Second Lebanon War.
The meeting was led by then Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh who reportedly advised Assad to focus on missile warfare if he wanted to win the next campaign against Israel. Mughniyeh was killed in Damascus in 2008.
The sources, who were described as experts on Mughniyeh, said Hezbollah and Syria later agreed to start building a new missile system.
Mughniyeh and Assad's advisor, former general Muhammad Suleiman, were to monitor the development of the system. Suleiman was killed by sniper fire in Tartus in August 2008.
According to the report, Mughniyeh also reached an agreement with Iran and the Palestinian factions to build a similar system for the Gaza Strip.
The sources claimed that the Hezbollah commander had personally traveled to Gaza to oversee the development of the system.
The report quoted statements by the Islamic Jihad's Secretary-General Ramadan Shallah that Mughniyeh's fingerprints can be found on all rockets fired at Israel from Gaza.
It also quotes Mughniyeh himself as saying that Hezbollah has a special unit in Palestine. He reportedly said that Hezbollah is politically, morally and religiously obligated to actively support the resistance in Palestine and help it fight Israel.
The sources further mentioned a network working to equip Palestinians with weapons, especially rockets. They noted that Hezbollah operatives who were arrested in Jordan and Egypt were responsible for transferring the rockets.
According to the sources, the cells did not only coordinate the smuggling with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, but also with Fatah and former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Weapons that were transferred to Palestinian territories with the assistance of Mughniyeh were reportedly the reason that led Israel to assassin him.
According to the sources, "The network was responsible for arms smuggling and Mughniyeh supervised that network directly. Many activists, including top Iranian and Syrian operatives, joined Mughniyeh in the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance."
The article identified the operatives who took part in the smuggling as Ghaleb Awali, Ali Saleh and Abu-Hassan Salameh of Hezbollah; Mahmoud al - Mabhouh and Nizar Khalil of Hamas; and Muhammad al-Majzoub and his brother, and adviser to Assad Muhammad Suleiman – of the Islamic Jihad.
Top Iranian officials allegedly played an important role in developing the Palestinian terror groups' rocket capabilities, and one Iranian commander, in charge of the development of the missile system, was apparently targeted by Israel.
"Once the basic weapon components were supplied to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Popular Resistance Committees and other Palestinian factions, Mughniyeh started offering the Palestinian factions unlimited support," the report said. Syria and Iran provided strategic support.
"Mughniyeh tried to achieve tactical balance with Israel. He did not neglect to establish infantry, sniper, anti-tank and engineering units as well as elite units meant to wage guerilla warfare against the IDF."
The report quoted a top operative with the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades as saying that Mughniyeh was part of the fighting in Gaza.