Gaza Jihad: Calm before the Storm

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CBNNews.com - GAZA STRIP - Members of Islamic Jihad may be driven by hate for Israel and the US, but there's an element of respect as they train for war.

Israeli Defense Ministry officials know that Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip are continually upgrading their capabilities and threat to Israel. They also know that Iran is providing the lion's share of funding and weaponry to these groups.

"It [Islamic Jihad] is a very good client from the Iranian point of view because it's completely in the pocket of the Iranians, completely financed and run by the Iranians," Israeli Middle East analyst Jonathan Spyer told CBN News.

"What we're seeing as a result of the [six-month] cease-fire is that you're having more and more Palestinian operatives -- not only from Islamic Jihad, but from other groups too -- going out of Gaza via the southern tunnels into Sinai and then going and taking part in training activities facilitated by the Revolutionary Guards in Iran," Spyer said.

Islamic Jihad terrorists are amassing an upgraded weapons cache, which includes heavier and more powerful roadside bombs meant to target tanks and heavy machinery weighing more than 60 tons.

The deadly, 175-pound bombs can penetrate nearly a foot of armored steel.

Iran has also equipped Islamic Jihad with longer-range rockets, dubbed "Jerusalem rockets," which can target populations five to seven miles away.

Rockets now reach the coastal city of Ashkelon and will soon threaten areas not far from Tel Aviv, and they're working on extending the range from 11 to 13 miles.

While the world presses Israel for an illusive two-state solution for Arabs and Jews, the jihadists embrace no such vision. To them, all the land from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Jordan River is an Islamic Waqf [religious trust], and the Zionist enemy [Israel] must find itself a different place to exist.

The Islamists, bent on continuing their jihad ["holy" war] until they fully liberate "Palestine," are driven to martyrdom by a religious fervor to please Allah.

"When we put our uniforms on, nothing will stop us. We feel we are about to meet Allah," one Palestinian told CBN News.

The recent attack in Mumbai is the latest deadly reminder of what radical Islamists can do with training, money and coordination.

Spyer believes the clash could last 20 more years.

"It's an ideology that is right now on the way up," he said. "It's an ideology that is at war with the West, and first and foremost, the West, I think, has to realize it is at war. It's got a real war on its hands," he said.

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Senior Editor John Waage and Pat Robertson's comments concerning where the term "Jihad" really comes from.

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Salam Eid and John Waage

Salam Eid and John Waage

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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