Bahraini militia claims drone attack on Israel

Earlier today, Saraya al-Ashtar, an Iranian-backed Shia militia in the island Kingdom of Bahrain, claimed its men launched a drone attack against the Israeli city of Eilat last week. 

The claim cannot be independently verified as no open-source evidence of a drone strike taking place in Eilat last week was reported. 

And despite no evidence of this attack actually taking place, it nevertheless marks the first claimed operation by the militia since at least December 2017 according to data kept by FDD’s Long War Journal on militia attacks in Bahrain. 

In its statement, Saraya al-Ashtar claimed that it “targeted the headquarters of the company responsible for land transportation in the Zionist entity (Trucknet) in the city of Umm Al-Rashrash (Eilat) in occupied Palestine” in a suicide drone strike.

For reference, Trucknet, an Israeli transport company, signed an agreement to transfer oil between Israel and Arab countries earlier this year. 

It continued by saying the alleged drone strike was in support of the Palestinian cause and in support of “our people of resistance in Gaza.”

Saraya al-Ashtar, a US-designated terrorist organization for its terrorist attacks in Bahrain and relationship with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has long threatened attacks on Israel, Zionists, and Jews more broadly. 

For instance, in Feb. 2019, al-Ashtar openly threatened attacks against Israeli targets in Bahrain. Speaking in a video, a spokesman for the group denounced the “Khalifa regime’s openness to the Zionists” and added that the “Zionist presence is a legitimate target” on the island.

Other IRGC-backed Shia militia in Bahrain have also directly threatened Israel in the past. Just two days after the Hamas-led invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, Saraya Wa’ad Allah praised the violence and called for additional attacks on Israelis and Jews, including in Bahrain itself. 

Prior to this, in 2020, it stated it created a dedicated sub-unit to target Israeli interests in Bahrain. It also took credit for threats against an Israeli delegation meeting with Bahraini officials in 2019. 

Saraya al-Mokhtar, another US-designated terrorist group for its ties to the IRGC, has also threatened Israelis and Jews in Bahrain. 

Despite all the talk, however, no Iranian-backed militia has actually carried through with these threats. 

Though dubious, Saraya al-Ashtar’s claim does nevertheless represent the first time these militias have tried to signal the Bahraini contingent of Iran’s so-called Axis of Resistance is actively taking part in the ongoing conflict with Israel.

Joe Truzman is an editor and senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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