Sunday, Jan. 25th 2009

IRGC Sustained Losses in Gaza While Advising Hamas Rocket Units

Iranian Revolutionary Guards were killed in Gaza during the recent fighting reports The Bulletin (a Philadelphia based newspaper.) (UPDATE: The Bulletin has apparently ceased its web operations – you can find the story at this Behind the News in Israel web page.) David Bedein, Middle East Correspondent for The Bulletin writes that the IRGC was in Gaza to assist Hamas with firing rockets and building new, larger ones:

IRGC officers helped the Hamas regime and Islamic Jihad fire BM-21 Grad rockets from urban areas.

“We believe there were dozens of IRGC personnel in Gaza during the war,” an Israeli source said. “Some were killed; others went into hiding; and others escaped.”

Israeli intelligence sources IRGC sent officers to the Gaza Strip to help Hamas improve the range and accuracy of its rockets.

IRGC was also authorized to help establish facilities to produce the Grad and other extended-range Katyusha-class rockets in the Gaza Strip.

Israel expects Iran to expand the IRGC presence in the Gaza Strip amid the cease-fire. Iran is expected to build a Hamas arsenal of rockets with ranges of up to 50 miles, which would include the Fajr-3 and Fajr-4 rockets.

The IRGC presence was arranged in 2008 by the late Hamas Interior Minister Said Siyam, the sources said. Siyam was killed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza City on Saturday, hours before the unilateral cease-fire began.

“Siyam’s death removes Hamas’ key liasion with Iran,” an Israeli source said. “But there are others who could fill his shoes.”

Analysis:It’s unlikely that the death of Said Siyam, the liaison between Hamas and the IRGC, was collateral damage in an attack against another target. Most likely, Siyam was targeted as evidenced by Israeli “sources” providing detailed information to various media sources about the IRGC assistance to Hamas.

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