Ziyad al-Nakhleh > Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed terror group based in Gaza, has boasted in an interview that his group was working to establish cells of fighters in the West Bank.

In an interview released on Saturday, Ziad Nakhaleh said that Iran’s head of state Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – with whom he met two weeks ago in Tehran – was supportive of “moving from a state of calm to one of resistance” in the West Bank, while reiterating his support for arming Palestinians there.

“During our visit to Iran, during the meeting with His Eminence, the Leader, His Eminence reaffirmed [his desire] to advance arming the West Bank and resistance action in the West Bank.”

According to Nakhaleh, Islamic Jihad has set up “fighting battalions” in Palestinian cities across the West Bank and was working on manufacturing explosives and distributing arms, including to gunmen linked to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah party.

Nakhaleh’s comments came after his terror organisation claimed responsibility for a massive roadside bomb that wounded eight Israeli solders during clashes in Jenin, in the West Bank, last month.