Palestinians are “not alone” in their fight against Israel, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said, as they faced a second day of air raids on Gaza.
“Today, all the anti-Zionist jihadi capabilities are on the scene in a united formation working to liberate Jerusalem and uphold the rights of the Palestinian people,” IRGC’s Major-General Hossein Salami said in a statement on its Sepah News website.
“We are with you on this path until the end, and let Palestine and the Palestinians know that they are not alone,” he told the visiting leader of the Islamic Jihad group, Ziad al-Nakhala, during a meeting in Tehran.
Israel has said it launched a “preemptive” operation against Islamic Jihad on Friday to avert an imminent attack following days of tensions along the Gaza border.
A senior commander of the group was killed in an air raid on Gaza City on Friday, one of a wave of attacks on the territory.
The Gaza health ministry said a five-year-old girl was among 15 people killed by the Israeli bombardment. More than 100 others have been wounded.
Palestinian fighters hit back with a barrage of rocket fire into Israel in the territory’s worst flare-up since a war last year.
Salami stressed the Palestinian response showed “a new chapter” has begun and Israel “will pay another heavy price for the recent crime”.
“The Palestinian resistance is stronger today than in the past,” he said, adding armed groups have found “the ability to manage major wars”.
Iran’s foreign ministry condemned Israel’s “brutal attack” on Gaza.
President Ebrahim Raisi said Israel has “once again showed its occupying and aggressive nature to the world”, according to a statement from his office.
Iran is a backer of Islamic Jihad and al-Nakhala met Raisi and other officials during his visit.
Israel has accused Iran of smuggling weapons to Palestinian groups in Gaza. In March last year, it said it intercepted two Iranian drones laden with weapons for Gaza.