Iranian support greatly improved Palestinian Islamic Jihad's (PIJ) fighting capabilities during November's conflict with Israel compared to its performance during the 2008-2009 Gaza war, Al-Monitor reports.
PIJ usually takes a backseat to Hamas in popular support, but its Al-Quds Brigades became a key component in the recent fight due to improved weapons capabilities provided by Iran and, to a lesser extent, Syria.
"The last assault was such a fruitful experience for us; it was such a practical training that obviously we have developed," Al-Quds Brigades spokesman Abu Ahmad said. "We are not the only Palestinian armed group that receives an Iranian support, but we are the one that admits it the loudest. We feel it's like an inevitable gratitude."
The group also was the first to launch rockets against Tel Aviv. Iran provided rockets and technical aid to the Palestinian factions, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari told the Fars News Agency.
The Al-Quds Brigades have also built weapons locally, using Iranian blueprints, due to the challenges of smuggling weapons through the Gaza tunnels. "Our local rockets proved their high level of proficiency, especially in the latest round of the battle," Abu Ahmad said.
The group fired 933 rockets at Israel, killing three people, while losing 31 terrorists in retaliatory strikes.
The Al-Quds Brigades boast a fighting force of thousands and also demonstrated a potent cyber-warfare capability when it hacked the cell phones of 5,000 Israeli soldiers and sent them threatening messages in Hebrew. It also published files containing personal information such as birthdates and emails addresses.
Iran's assistance has also included sponsoring the families of Palestinian Islamic Jihad prisoners and for its injured fighters.