JERUSALEM—Iran on Wednesday stoked the current round of violence on the West Bank and Jerusalem by promising to pay the family of every Palestinian "martyr" $7,000 and to pay $30,000 for every home of a terrorist demolished by Israel.
The announcement was made in Beirut by the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammad Fathali, in the presence of representatives of several Palestinian factions.
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"Continuing Iran’s support for the oppressed Palestinian people," said Fathali, "Iran announces the provision of financial aid to families of Palestinian martyrs who were killed in the ‘Jerusalem intifada.’"
He said the aid will be conveyed through the Palestinian branch of the Shahid Institution, which was established in 1992 in Iran. Fathali called on the Arab Muslim nation to rally around the Palestinian cause. A Hamas official who was present, Osama Hamdan, said that Hamas appreciates the Iranian initiative.
To date, some 150 Palestinians have been killed since the violence began five months ago. The thirty-third Israeli fatality was recorded Wednesday, but he was the victim of friendly fire during the course of a Palestinian knife attack. The victim, Capt. Eliav Gelman, 30, a reserve officer on active duty, was at a bus stop in the Etzion bloc on the West Bank south of Jerusalem—site of numerous attacks over the past few months—when the attacker lunged at him with a knife. Gelman was reaching for his pistol but two soldiers behind him opened fire on the attacker, who was hit and moderately wounded; two bullets also hit Gelman, killing him.
The Israeli government and Washington have frequently denounced Iran as a fomenter of terror but Wednesday’s public encouragement of Palestinian terror is one of the more blatant examples of Iranian intervention far beyond its borders. One of the earlier examples of Iranian instigation of terror attacks was the bombing in 1983 of barracks housing U.S. marines and a barracks housing French paratroopers. A truck bomb reportedly driven by an Iranian national named Ismail Ascari crashed through barriers and into the lobby of the American barracks, killing 241 servicemen (220 of them marines), the highest single-day death toll for the marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.
Ten minutes later, another truck bomb detonated outside a building elsewhere in Beirut, killing 58 French paratroopers. The Americans and French were part of a peacekeeping force in Lebanon. Iran, patrons of the Shiites in Lebanon, denied accusations of involvement but in 2004 a monument was erected in Teheran to commemorate the 1983 bombings and its "martyrs."