Amid Unrest in Israel, Iraq's Iran Allies Tout Missiles That Can Hit Foe

As Israel experiences heightened unrest in clashes with Palestinian factions, Iran and its allies across the Middle East are showing off weapons capable of striking their mutual foe, including a new missile revealed by Iraq's Hezbollah Al-Nujaba Movement.

The missile, known as Jamal-69, is said by the group to have a range of 700 kilometers, or roughly 435 miles, greater than the average distance of less than 300 miles between Iraq and Israel, as claimed by the group in a video accompanying the unveiling. The clip showed off the missile capabilities of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and other anti-Israel groups in the region, including Yemen's Ansarallah (also known as the Houthis), Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

Asked about the Iraqi faction's ties to these groups, Hezbollah Al-Nujaba spokesperson Nasr al-Shammary told Newsweek that "the Islamic resistance movement Al-Nujaba has strong relations and high coordination with the Lebanese resistance and the Palestinian resistance movements."

"And the goal of the Axis of Resistance is clear and specific," he added, "which is to support the oppressed, eliminate global arrogance and work hard to liberate Palestine and expel the Zionist occupation."

Newsweek has reached out to Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian mission to the United Nations, Islamic Jihad and the Israel Defense Forces for comment.

The new weapon was also seen on display Friday in the Iranian capital of Tehran as part of an arms exhibition attended by Axis of Resistance groups partnered with the Islamic Republic. Marches and rallies to mark Quds Day, using the Arabic term for Jerusalem, were also held in other countries and territories, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Syria.

Iraq, Hezbollah, Al-Nujaba, Movement, Jamal, 69, Iran
The Iraqi Hezbollah Al-Nujaba Movement's Jamal 69 missile, said to have a range of around 435 miles, is seen on display during a Quds Day exhibition in Tehran, Iran on April 29. Hezbollah Al-Nujaba Movement

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a televised Arabic-language speech Friday to mark Quds Day. He praised the sharp uptick of Palestinian and Arab attacks in Israel that have also coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, and hailed the regionwide formation of the Axis of Resistance, which he credited with not only taking on Israel but also thwarting the U.S. and the Islamic State militant group (ISIS, also known by its Arabic acronym, Daesh) as well.

"The formation of the resistance in West Asia has been the most blessed phenomenon in this region in recent decades," Khamenei said. "It was the magnificence of the resistance that was able to cleanse the occupied territories of Lebanon of the pollution of the Zionists, pull Iraq out from the clutches of the U.S., save Iraq from the maliciousness of Daesh and assist Syrian defenders in the face of the U.S. schemes."

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Esmail Qaani, who was promoted to the position following his predecessor's slaying during a January 2020 U.S. drone strike in Iraq, also gave speeches praising the pro-Palestinian resistance and threatening Israel.

As weeks of attacks across the country killed a dozen Israelis, the IDF has stepped up operations targeting cells of suspected militants, including those accused of trying to smuggle weapons from across the border with Jordan and inciting clashes that have erupted between worshippers and Israeli security forces near the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The turmoil has raised concerns of a return to all-out conflict witnessed last year, when tensions in the disputed holy city led to an eruption of rockets launched from Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israeli attacks from air, land and sea. A number of rockets were also launched against Israel at the time from Lebanon and Syria.

Once again this year, rockets have been fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip and most recently from Lebanon, resulting in Israeli retaliatory airstrikes against the Palestinian enclave and artillery fire across the northern border in Lebanon. On Wednesday, Syria also accused Israel of conducting airstrikes on a number of positions near the capital Damascus, resulting in the deaths of at least four soldiers.

The following day, the Iranian, Iraqi, Palestinian and Syrian ambassadors to Russia, which joins Iran in supporting Syria in its civil war, held a joint press conference to condemn Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory and its treatment of Palestinians.

Also on Thursday, the IDF issued a statement announcing that the Israeli military would be calling up reserve battalions in the coming weeks in an effort to shore up defenses within Israel and along its borders.

"Six reserve battalions will be called up in a number of rounds to enable the optimal deployment of forces in the IDF Central Command, and allow regular IDF operational activity and training routines to continue as planned," the statement said. "Some of the reserve battalions will also be sent to replace units in the Northern and Southern Commands."

Palestinian, protests, Al-Aqsa, Jerusalem, Quds, Day, Ramadan
Palestinian protesters wave Palestinian and Islamic flags as they rally by the Dome of the Rock mosque at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem, following the last Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, on April 29. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images

The tensions play out against the backdrop of stalled efforts to revive U.S. participation in a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Then-President Donald Trump abandoned the accord but his successor, President Joe Biden, has sought to reenter it, though talks among signatories taking place in the Austrian capital of Vienna appear to have hit a standstill in the final stretch, with a U.S. refusal to reverse the Trump administration's designation of the Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization reportedly at the center of the deadlock.

The deal is opposed by Israel, and the Israeli and U.S. national security chiefs met Monday to discuss Iran and other international issues. Following the talk, the White House issued a readout saying that national security adviser Jake Sullivan "emphasized that the United States is attuned to Israel's concerns about threats to its security, including first-and-foremost from Iran and Iranian-backed proxies."

He and his Israeli counterpart Eyal Hulata also "agreed to further enhance the ongoing coordination through the U.S.-Israel Strategic Consultative Group and strengthen security and diplomatic cooperation wherever possible with other regional partners."

Israeli media later cited Israeli officials as saying that the Biden administration was close to admitting that the year-long effort to return to the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), had failed. Asked about the reports, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday that the administration was "going to pursue a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA as long as it remains in our national interest to do so."