Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza
Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza Reuters

The Islamic Jihad terrorist movement staged a public show of force in Gaza on Friday, with its leader praising Iran and criticizing Arab states.

Thousands of supporters, including fighters from the group’s Al-Quds Brigades “military wing”, took part in the event, reported the AFP news agency.

Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah spoke via a video link, using his speech to accuse some Arab countries of abandoning the Palestinian cause.

"If the Arabs turn their backs on Palestine and embrace Israel, they can no longer condemn the resistance for taking support from Iran," Shalah declared, without naming any countries.

"(Iran) is the only country which commits to the unending support of the Palestinian cause," he added.

Iran is a main supporter of the Islamic Jihad. Earlier this year it pledged to provide $70 million in annual assistance to terror group's "jihad" against the State of Israel.

The move was seen as a serious snub by Iran towards Hamas, Islamic Jihad's main rivals in Gaza.

Once a key Iranian proxy, Hamas fell out of favor with the Islamic Republic after refusing to openly back the Assad regime at the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Years of stuttering relations from then deteriorated completely after a senior Hamas delegation visited Saudi Arabia in 2015, in what Tehran perceived as a slap in the face.

Islamic Jihad is also primarily a Sunni Islamist group, but is seen as almost an Iranian surrogate. Despite that, the tensions between it and Iran were also in part a result of the terror group's fence-sitting vis-a-vis the Syrian civil war.

In his remarks on Friday, Shalah also called on Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas to abandon the Oslo peace accords signed with Israel in the early 1990s, which were meant to lead to an independent Palestinian state.

He called for all Palestinian factions to come together for a "national dialogue".

Friday’s rally comes a day after it was cleared for publication that Israel arrested an Islamic Jihad terror cell planning a mass terror attack at an event hall in southern Israel.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)