CHIEF of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, says the ‘glorious’ Palestinian military operation in the occupied territories has made the Israeli regime realise their ‘nightmare of collapse’ is coming true.
In a message issued on Sunday, Baqeri congratulated the Gaza-based resistance fighters on their victorious raid, dubbed Al-Aqsa Storm, saying Palestinian youth will soon liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the occupation of the Zionist enemy.
‘Al-Aqsa Storm turned the Zionist leaders’ nightmare of the regime’s collapse into a certainty and proved that some desperate efforts, such as the ridiculous normalisation show, will not be able to slow down or delay the decline and the collapse of the spider’s den (Israel),’ he said.
‘The Palestinian groups’ combined and glorious operation … against the positions and fortifications of the armed-to-the-teeth Zionist regime in the occupied territories, once again proved the false awe and fake power of this occupying regime.’
On Saturday, the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement launched its large-scale operation with a heavy barrage of rockets in response to Israel’s desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and increased settler violence.
It shook the Israeli security establishment, leaving hundreds of Israelis dead and missing.
Baqeri emphasised that the surprise operation demonstrated ‘bright scenes of resistance and perseverance’ as it was ‘the product of the holy anger that the Zionist enemy has planted in the oppressed Palestinian nation.’
Military analysts and strategists, he added, have been bewildered at the level of power achieved by the Palestinian nation after decades of oppression.
‘Once the stone of the Intifada (uprising) was the Palestinian nation’s only defence tool, but today Palestinian fighters have reached a level of capability that enables them to deal strong blows to the Zionist enemy and make a mockery of its air defence systems and Iron Dome by firing thousands of rockets and missiles as part of a complex combined operation,’ the top general said.
Meanwhile, people and university students gathered in front of Palestine’s embassy in the Iranian capital Tehran on Saturday to celebrate the successful operation of the Palestinian resistance groups in the face of the Israeli regime.
The participants carried placards and chanted slogans against Israel and the United States and expressed their support and solidarity with the Palestinian fighters in their battle against the Tel Aviv regime.
- The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has rejected accusations that it is targeting civilians as the fighting rages across the occupied territories since the resistance groups launched Operation Al-Aqsa Storm on Saturday.
Senior Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamadan, senior spokesperson told Al Jazeera that they are not attacking civilians.
‘You have to differentiate between settlers and civilians; settlers attacked Palestinians,’ he said.
‘We are not targeting civilians on purpose. We have declared that settlers are part of the occupation and part of the armed Israeli force. They are not civilians.’
Hamadan’s remarks came after a number of Western-backed rights groups, including Amnesty International, accused the resistance movement of killing ‘Israeli civilians’ in their retaliatory strikes.
Asked whether civilians in southern Israel were considered settlers, the Hamas spokesman said ‘Everyone knows there are settlements there.’
On Saturday, the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement launched its large-scale operation, with a heavy barrage of rockets in response to Israel’s desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and increased settler violence.
By Sunday morning at least 700 Israeli settlers and forces had died as a result of the large-scale operation – code-named Al-Aqsa Storm – and more than 2,000 others were reported injured.
Following the operation, a spokesperson for the Israeli defence forces confirmed that Israeli settlers and soldiers are being held captive in Gaza, however, he declined to specify the number of hostages.
According to Israeli media outlets on Sunday, unofficial estimates suggested that approximately 750 Israeli soldiers and settlers were missing since fighting first broke out on Saturday morning.
The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said on its Telegram channel that the group had directed a ‘major strike on the settlement of Sderot with 100 missiles.’
The Qassam Brigades also called on Palestinians ‘to join this battle’ as fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters continues.
The United Nations Security Council held a behind closed doors emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the recent escalations in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Mohamad Aklouk, Palestine’s permanent representative to the Arab League, has submitted a request for an emergency meeting of the regional body’s foreign ministers in the wake of the latest Israeli onslaught.
‘The urgent meeting comes in light of the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, including the escalation of incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by thousands of settlers and Israeli officials over the past days,’ Aklouk was quoted as saying by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.
The retaliatory operation by Hamas on the occupied territories is the largest since the 11-day Israeli war against the Gaza Strip in May 2021, which took place after weeks of violence against Palestinians in Al Quds (occupied Jerusalem) and a brutal crackdown on worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as attempts to steal their land in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in the east of the city.
At least 260 Palestinians, including over 60 children, were killed during that 2021 Israeli offensive as the Gaza-based resistance movements retaliated.
The Israeli regime was eventually forced to announce a ceasefire brokered by Egypt.
- Spokesman for the Israeli military, Daniel Hagari, said on Sunday that the regime’s army would evacuate all Jewish settlers living close to the Gaza Strip within 24 hours.
‘Our mission for the upcoming 24 hours is to evacuate all residents living around Gaza,’ Hagari told reporters.
He added that fighting is still ongoing to ‘rescue hostages’ held by Palestinian resistance fighters.
‘There are tens of thousands of combat soldiers in the area. We’ll reach each and every community till we kill every Palestinian fighter,’ Hagari said.
The Hamas resistance movement said its unprecedented offensive by land, air and sea was in response to the desecration of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound as well as Israeli atrocities against Palestinians over decades.
These include the 16-year blockade of Gaza, Israeli raids inside the occupied West Bank cities over the past year, increasing attacks by settlers on Palestinians as well as the expansion of illegal settlements.
The Al-Aqsa Storm operation is an ‘unprecedented achievement’ for the Palestinian resistance, Mohammed Deif, a senior Hamas military commander, has said, adding that the time has come ‘for the enemy to understand… they cannot keep going without consequences.’
Hamas leaders have also stated that the assault which began in Gaza will escalate and spread to the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.
Israeli media outlets reported on Sunday that unofficial estimates suggest that approximately 750 Israeli soldiers and settlers are missing since the fighting broke out on Saturday morning, and despite two full days having passed since the unprecedented operation started, Palestinian fighters are still present in Israeli settlements.