Iranian-backed militias in Iraq claimed credit for two attacks on Israel this week. The “Islamic resistance” in Iraq claimed that it struck a “vital target deep in the occupied Palestinian territories,” according to the pro-Iranian Al-Mayadeen media.

“The Islamic Resistance in Iraq announces that its mujahideen attacked, Monday morning…with appropriate weapons,” the report claimed. The report appeared to link the claims to an incident in Eilat overnight. The targeting of Eilat from Iraq is a major escalation by Iranian-backed groups and follows other incidents and escalation.

This came a day after the same group in Iraq, which represents several pro-Iranian militias that possess drones and missiles, claimed to have targeted the Christian village of Eilaboun in the Galilee.

They claimed to have used a drone flown from Iraq in the attack. Pro-Iranian groups in Iraq have increased their number and capability of drones in recent years. In January, Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq carried out a drone attack on US service members in Jordan, killing three Americans.

Pro-Iranian groups have targeted Eilat numerous times since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7. The Houthis in Yemen have launched missiles and drones towards Eilat, a distance of around 2,000km from Yemen. Iran first based its Shahed 136 drones in Yemen in 2020.

Iran then exported the same long-range kamikaze attack drones to Russia. Iran has exported drones and drone technology to militias in Iraq and Syria. In November 2023, an Iranian-backed group in Syria launched an attack on Eilat using a drone.

The IDF said on Monday morning that “following the sirens which sounded in the city of Eilat and the area of Hevel Eilot regarding a hostile aircraft infiltration, IDF soldiers identified a suspicious aerial target that crossed from the east toward Israeli territory. The target fell in the area of the Gulf of Eilat. No injuries were reported and there was light damage caused to a building.”

Iran has practiced attacks on Eilat for years. In January 2023, Iranian media published a video showing Iran using a drone to attack a model of an Israeli naval base in Eilat. In the Iranian drill, a drone was used to target a model of a Saar 6 Israeli warship.

According to Al-Mayadeen, on March 31, “the Islamic Resistance in Iraq [also] announced that it had struck a military target of the Israeli occupation in the occupied Syrian Golan, with drones.

A few days ago, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq targeted an “additional military site and the Israeli ‘Obda’ [Uvda] air base (southern region) inside the occupied Palestinian territories.” In early March, the same Iraqi groups claimed to have targeted Haifa. These groups often make claims of targeting Israel that are either exaggerated or cannot be verified.
Iran spreads unrest to closer borders

The threats come after Iran appears to have tried to spread unrest in Jordan and the West Bank. Reports at the same Iranian-backed media have been spotlighting recent anti-Israel protests in Jordan and also highlighted a warning by groups in the West Bank against the Palestinian Authority. This warning was also printed at the Iranian pro-government Tasnim News.

Iran backs groups in Syria that have also targeted US forces in more than 100 attacks since October 7. In Iraq, these Iranian-backed groups may call themselves the “Islamic Resistance,” but they are composed of different militias. These include Kataib Hezbollah, which has used drones to target US forces in Jordan and also to target Saudi Arabia. In addition, there are Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Nujaba, and other militias.

These are all Iranian proxy groups who have worked for Iranian interests in Iraq for many years. Many of them also have fought the US. In Iraq, they come under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Units, and many have government funding or serve as official paramilitaries. Kataib Hezbollah is also suspected of kidnapping Elizabeth Tsurkov, a researcher linked to Princeton who has Israeli and Russian citizenship. Tsurkov was kidnapped in March 2023 in Iraq.

Iran appears to be trying to mobilize militias in Iraq as well as spread unrest in Jordan and the West Bank in recent days. This may be a coordinated effort or the coming together of various strands of the Iranian effort to “unify” various fronts and arenas against Israel.

Iran recently hosted Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders. Iran has also sought to push Hezbollah to escalate some of its recent attacks and tensions on the northern border with Israel. This comes as Hamas continues to suffer losses in Gaza. This is also the last week of Ramadan and the lead-up to “Quds Day” in Iran when it will try to inflame the region against Israel.

Source » jpost