IDF troops engage Palestinian terrorist groups in Jenin
Israeli special forces conduct a counterterrorism raid on the Jenin Camp. The area has become a hotbed of terrorism leading to attacks against Israelis. (IDF Spokesman’s Unit)
JERUSALEM — Amid President Biden’s pledge to Israel President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday that America’s commitment to the security of the Jewish state is “ironclad,” a new think tank report reveals the U.S. has declined to designate a number of Iranian-backed entities as terrorist organizations.
Just weeks ago, Israel deployed nearly 2,000 troops to root out Palestinian terrorists who are backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to Brig. Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi, a former deputy commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza Division.
Avivi told Fox News Digital, “For the last year and a half, Iran stated clearly that its main strategy is to make the Samaria region another Gaza.” Samaria is the biblical Hebrew name for a part of the West Bank. The entire West Bank is also known in Israel by its biblical name Judea and Samaria.
Avivi, who is the CEO of the Israel Defense and Security Forum, said the Iranians “are pouring money and smuggling weapons into the region. They are supporting Hamas and the PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] and other factions within the Palestinian Authority.”
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The IDF conducts counterterrorism activities in the city of Jenin and the Jenin Camp. (IDF Spokesman’s Unit)
Iran’s clerical state has repeatedly called for the obliteration of Israel. The U.S. government has classified, under both Democrat and Republican administrations, the Islamic Republic of Iran as the world’s worst international state sponsor of terrorism.
Many of the 19 Iranian regime-supported entities targeting Israel and U.S. interests have not been outlawed, according to the new report published by the Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
The FDD report said, “Over the last four decades, the Iranian regime has built a network of armed groups on Israel’s borders to create instability and foment terrorism. Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and a mosaic of other terrorist organizations receive funding, training and weapons from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Force (IRGC-QF).”
A new report has exposed Iranian funding to Palestinian terror groups. The FDD report is calling for the U.S. to sanction the organizations. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP via Getty Images / File)
While Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the IRGC have been classified by the U.S. government as terrorist entities, the following Iranian regime-backed groups on Israel’s borders are not listed on the U.S. Foreign Terror Organization list: Abd Al-Qadir Al-Husseini Brigades, Badr Organization, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Lions’ Den, Liwa Al-Quds and Popular Resistance Committees.
A State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “We do not comment on deliberations or potential deliberations related to terrorist designations. Iran’s support of and partner groups that commit terrorist violence throughout the Middle East destabilizes the region. The United States is committed to countering Iran’s destabilizing influence in the region and around the world.”
Joe Truzman, the author of the FDD report titled “Iran and its Network of Nineteen Terrorist Organizations on Israel’s Borders,” told Fox News Digital that all the groups meet the U.S. “terror designation criteria” and “We are trying to shed light on that so these groups will be sanctioned.”
An IDF soldier examines weapons and explosives seized during a recent anti-terror operation in Jenin. (IDF Spokesman’s Unit)
FDD’s Long War Journal, which is run by the military expert Bill Roggio, has “monitored the buildup of Iran-backed terrorist organizations on key fronts: Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Syria. Israel has worked to limit the growth of these terrorist organizations, but they remain a significant threat on multiple fronts,” the report reads.
Truzman, who laid out the report as a visual with the symbols of the jihadi and terrorist organizations along with their commanders, said, “The most dangerous one is Hezbollah” because it is the “the biggest one” and then follows Hamas, which controls the Palestinian enclave the Gaza Strip. In 1983, Hezbollah bombed the U.S. military barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 243 Marines and 58 French paratroopers. In 2007, Hezbollah operative Ali Musa Daqduq played a key role in the murder of five American soldiers in Karbala, Iraq.
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Palestinian militants march during the funeral of Palestinians killed in clashes the previous day in the Israeli military operation in Jenin. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP via Getty Images / File)
Truzman noted Palestinian Islamic Jihad is the third-most dangerous entity, noting, “There are smaller groups. It is difficult to rank them.” The U.S. has classified Hezbollah, Hamas and PIJ as foreign terrorist organizations. However, the U.S. has not classified the Palestinian organization Lions’ Den, which was founded in 2022 and operates in the West Bank. The Lions’ Den has been responsible for outbreaks of terrorism targeting Israelis, including the murder of an Israeli Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch, according to Israel’s government.
“Just because one group is not the most powerful does not mean the other groups are not,” Truzman said. “They coordinate. When they coordinate, they are more efficient that way. They coordinate rocket attacks or they launch drones.”
Smoke rises during an Israeli military raid in the militant stronghold of Jenin on July 3, 2023. (AP Photo / Majdi Mohammed)
He cited the example of 2021 when rocket attacks were launched into Israel from Gaza and Lebanon, where Hezbollah is the de facto ruler, according to Mideast experts.
The following Tehran-backed organizations are not U.S. proscribed terrorist organizations but listed on Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list: Liwa Fatemiyoun, Liwa Zeynabiyoun and Palestinian Mujahideen Movement.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters take part in a rally to celebrate the shooting attacks in Israel, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, April 8, 2022.
Beni Sabti, an expert on Iran from the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told Fox News Digital the 19 Iran regime-backed groups can be viewed as “squads within one division” who all aim “to harm Israel.”
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Sabti, who was born in Tehran, said it is a “very dangerous thing” if these 19 organizations can unite, and they can create many fronts against Israel.
Last week Reuters reported that an Islamic Jihad spokesman claimed Palestinian Authority security forces arrested five members of its group in a counterterrorism raid in Jenin.
Fox News Digital sent press queries to Iran’s government and the Palestinian Authority.
Fox News’ Peter Petroff and Reuters contributed to this report.
Benjamin Weinthal reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe for Fox News Digital. Benjamin has contributed articles to The Wall Street Journal, The Jerusalem Post, Foreign Policy, Haaretz, Forbes and The New York Post. You can follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.