Amid major daily attacks by the resistance groups on the American bases in Iraq’s Al Anbar, Erbil, Baghdad, and even Syria, on Friday in a new development showing broader involvement of the Iraqi resistance groups in Gaza war, they announced firing ballistic missiles at port of Eilat in the south of the Israeli regime from a distance of 500 kilometers west of Iraq.
Claiming the responsibility for the attack, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq stated that its staff “targeted Um Al-Rashash on Friday morning”, using the Arabic name for Eilat.
The movement stressed that the attack was launched in support of Gaza people and in response to the Israeli massacres targeting Palestinians, including the children, women, and the elderly.
The Islamic Resistance insists on continuing to strike the enemy, the statement said.
Undoubtedly, this attack should be considered of importance in many ways and with strategic effects and results both in the current war and for the future of regional developments.
First of all, this attack is regarded as marking a turning point in the history of the activities of the Iraqi resistance groups in support of historic anti-occupation struggle of the Palestinian nation.
Several-year American and Israeli nightmare comes true
Although in the past years various Iraqi governments joined the condemnation of Israel and support of Palestine in the international and regional organizations like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Arab League, the attack by the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) as part of the official Iraqi Armed Forces on the occupied territories is a development a few people could predict, especially that in recent years extensive Western and Arab efforts were made to separate Iraq from Iran-led Axis of Resistance using levers like economic pressures, promotion of secular nationalism, and inflaming chaos and unrest across the country.
The adoption of participatory approach by Iraqi resistance factions like that of the Lebanese Hezbollah in the Palestinian developments has been a nightmare of the Americans and Israelis from years ago, mainly when during the internal conflict in Syria, the Al-Nujaba movement led by Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi branched off from Kataib Hizbullah and joined key battles like Battle of Aleppo and Battle of Damascus suburbs. In recent years, the movement has had tangible military presence in areas near Syria’s occupied Golan Heights.
With the Friday attack, it seems that the American and Israeli nightmare has completely come true and a fourth front— the first three being Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen— has been opened against Tel Aviv.
After this surprising and historic attack, the Al-Nujaba movement announced that it is ready for any confrontation against the American forces and the Israeli occupation regime if requested by Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General General of Lebanese Hezbollah. Al-Kaabi also expressed readiness of the Iraqi resistance groups to join ground operation inside the occupied territories to liberate Palestine.
In August 2021, Herzliya International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in a report suggested that Al-Nujaba’s unveiling of a book, titled The strategic importance of the Golan region from the perspective of Israel’s security and survival was a sign of the movement’s resolve to join the future anti-Israeli battle.
Also, in 2017, the Wilson Center, an American think tank, referring to the 9,000 forces of the Al-Nujaba movement, said that this movement formed the Golan Liberation Brigade in 2017.
“The Iraqi resistance with its special ground forces, which defeated ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria, is ready and can stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers in Palestine and Lebanon, until full defeat of the Zionists and [liberation] prayer in the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Ultra Iraq cited al-Kaabi as saying on Friday following the missile attack.
“We are waiting for your evaluations and decisions, and the battle with the American occupiers, which began in Iraq, should not end except with comprehensive freedom,” al-Kaabi addressed the powerful Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
Al-Kaabi threatened the American forces with a “new defeat”, adding that resistance is way stronger than before and the Americans are weaker and less significant. “Certainly this battle will be a beautiful move for the heroic mujahedeen.”
In addition to confirming missile attacks on sites inside the occupied territories, the movement also threatened to expand its target bank to include the US allies in the region.
For his part, Faras al-Yasser, a political member of Al-Nujaba, in a televised statement said that the latest attacks reached the Dead Sea and Eilat. “This ushers in a new stage in attacks on sites inside the usurping regime.”
He added: “The opportunity has come for confrontation of the occupying regime. The bombing of sites inside the occupied Palestine is a dramatic change demonstrating the capability and arsenal of the Islamic resistance the US does not have.”
Additionally, a member of the Al-Nujaba movement’s political office threatened to “open many new fronts”, adding that this movement “has a bank of targets that may even target the allies of the United States of America in the region as well as American warships.”
He also stated that the escalation of tensions depends on the level of the US response to the demand to stop the war in Gaza and withdraw from Iraq.
These threats come as on Friday Abdulaziz al-Mohammadavi , better known by his nom de guerre Abu Fadak, the commander of PMF, during a large-scale meeting of military commanders of the support units told the forces to be put on maximum alert to respond to emergency conditions as Gaza War unfolds.
Putting the PMF forces on maximum alert will certainly worry the US and other Western supporters of the Israeli regime about definite involvement of the branches of the Axis of Resistance in the war should Washington fail to rein in Tel Aviv and fail to dissuade it from ground offensive.
These attacks also reduce the concentration power of the Israeli regime’s missile defense to intercept daily rockets from Gaza and put a larger area of the occupied territories in crisis, and these issues regardless of the ability of the Iraqi missile attacks to immediately damage the Israeli military and economic infrastructure will put heavy costs on the Israelis and their Western backers.
From another aspect, this attack will considerably reduce the American deterrence and consequently the Israeli confidence in Washington’s promises of protection and prevention of expansion of fronts.
Iraqi resistance’s damaging blow to Israeli economy’s artery
The targeted and significant blow to Israel was not just symbolic and admonitory, but showed that the PMF under the nose of the US military presence in Iraq has gained high weaponry capabilities and can fire high-accuracy missiles and possibly the famous kamikazes, which are now in possession of all resistance groups in the region, at one of Israel’s key ports on the Red Sea coast and only 500 kilometers from Iraq.
Eilat is located in the extreme south of the occupied territories and on the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, between the Jordanian city of Aqaba in the east and the Egyptian town of Taba in the west.
The port of Eilat was inaugurated in 1957 and today is mainly used for trade with Far East countries as it allows Israeli shipping to reach the Indian Ocean without having to go through the Suez Canal. In addition to the commercial port, this city also includes two airports and a border crossing with Jordan’s Aqaba.
Actually, Eilat port, the only Israeli port in the Red Sea, is of high strategic and economic importance as it provides a geopolitical breathing space and prevents territorial landlock.
Given the “island economy” of Israel arising from its regional geopolitical isolation, the Israeli regime’s foreign trade is shaped on the use of ports and maritime routes to ensure continued economic growth. 99 percent of the Israeli trade is conducted through ports ad the remaining 1 percent through air or eastern borders.
Also, Eilat is considered an oil terminal, as the Ashkelon pipeline takes 12-16 percent of the crude oil transferred from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea without crossing the Suez Canal and this makes it of great interest to Tel Aviv for taking advantage of oil agreements with the Persian Gulf Arab countries. In October 2020, the state-owned Europe-Asia Pipeline Company, formerly the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company, signed a MoU with MED-RED Land Bridge, a joint venture between the UAE and Israel, for transfer of oil and its derivatives from the Red Sea terminal to the Mediterranean through the occupied territories.
The Israeli regime is heavily reliant on imports, especially energy imports and is afraid of any possible threats to its energy flow. The 1967 war erupted after Cairo seized the Titan Strait between Egypt and Saudi Arabia and closed down Eilat port’s trade route.
Also in the Israeli economic planning, Eilat is the ring linking the occupied territories to the international corridors like China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or makes a transit rival to Egypt’s Suez Canal.
Naturally, in the next few days, wider-range missile and drones strikes to disrupt the port’s operation can be put on the agenda of the resistance groups, something slated to deal a devastating blow to the Israeli economy.