Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander stressed Tehran’s support for Palestinians facing Israeli “crimes” in Jerusalem and Gaza in phone calls with Islamist factions’ officials, state media reported Sunday. The calls comes during the heaviest fighting since 2014 between Israel and Islamist group Hamas, which has claimed 181 lives in the crowded coastal enclave of Gaza and killed 10 people in Israel since Monday. Brigadier General Ismail Qaani talked to the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, and the secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad group, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, said state new agency IRNA. Qaani told Haniyeh that Iran “stands alongside the nation of Palestine” and condemned Israel for acting “against all international laws and conventions,” IRNA reported. In a separate call, Qaani told al-Nakhalah that Tehran supports “the Palestinians’ right to confront the aggression and crimes of the Zionist enemy”. He also “praised the development of Palestinian resistance and its capabilities in defending the people of Palestine”. The Quds (Jerusalem) Force is the foreign operations arm of the elite Revolutionary Guards, formerly led by Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad in January last year. The Islamic republic does not recognise the State of Israel, and supporting the Palestinian cause has been a pillar of Iran’s foreign policy since the 1979 revolution. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei this month called Israel “not a country, but a terrorist base” and said that “fighting this despotic regime is fighting oppression and terrorism, and (doing so) is everyone’s duty”.