Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine

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Islamic Jihad Movement
حركة الجهاد الإسلامي في فلسطين
PIJ emblem.png
Islamic Jihad Movement Logo
Major actions 1987–present
Leader(s) Fathi Shaqaqi (1987–1995)
Ramadan Shalah
Shekh Odeh
Active region(s) Gaza Strip
Ideology Anti-Zionism
Sunni Islamism
Religious nationalism
Palestinian nationalism
Status Designated as terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Size 8,000[1]

The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine (Arabic: حركة الجهاد الإسلامي في فلسطين‎, Harakat al-Jihād al-Islāmi fi Filastīn) known in the West as simply Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), is a Palestinian militant organization.[2] The group has been labelled as a terrorist group by the United States,[3] the European Union,[4] the United Kingdom,[5] Japan,[6] Canada,[7] Australia,[8] New Zealand[9] and Israel. Iran is a major financial supporter of the PIJ.[10][11][12][13] Following the Israeli and Egyptian squeeze on Hamas in early 2014, The PIJ has seen its power steadily increase with the backing of Iranian funds.[14] Its armed wing is Al-Quds Brigades.

History and background

Flag of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad was created after some members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood believed that the organization did not commit enough effort to prevent Israel from occupying Palestinian territories. They felt as if they were not helping the Palestinian struggle.[15] In 1979, after being inspired by the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Fathi Shaqaqi and Abd al-Aziz Awda founded the group to fight for the sovereignty of Palestine and freedom from Israel.[16] Shaqaqi and Awda conducted operations out of Egypt until 1981 when the group was exiled after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat. The PIJ continued its work in Gaza until it was exiled to Lebanon in 1987. There are currently 50 service members along with health and female fighters. While in Lebanon, the group was able to receive support from Hezbollah and ultimately developed a close relationship with the Lebanese organization and the PIJ adopted any methods within reach to achieve their goals. In 1989, the PIJ moved to Damascus, where it had remained until July 2012. The organization's banner leads from a verse in the Qur'an "And those who do jihad for Us, we shall guide them to our paths. And God is with those who do good."[17] In effect, outlining the goals of the movement.

The group is currently based in the Syrian capital, Damascus, but there are also offices in Beirut, Tehran, and Khartoum. Its financial backing is believed to come from Syria and Iran. The group is primarily in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Its main strongholds in the West Bank are the cities of Hebron and Jenin. Islamic Jihad has much in common with Hamas, since both fight against the existence of the State of Israel. Both groups were formed as offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood and receive a large amount of funding from Iran. With similar goals, Hamas and the PIJ have worked together on a number of projects. The PIJ has Sunni members only, promotes Islamism and Sharia law and fights to establish an Islamic state.[citation needed]

On February 20, 2003, University of South Florida computer engineering professor Sami Al-Arian was arrested after being indicted on a terrorism-related charge. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft alleged at a press conference that Al-Arian was the North American head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. On December 6, 2006, Sami Al-Arian was sentenced to 57 months in prison, pursuant to a plea bargain.[18] In November 2006 he was found guilty of civil contempt for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury and served 21 months in prison on that conviction. On June 27, 2014, the US Federal Government dropped all charges against Al-Arian.[19]

Islamic Jihad is alleged to have used minors. On March 29, 2004, 16-year-old Tamer Khuweir in Rifidia, an Arab suburb of Nablus, was captured by Israeli forces as he planned to carry out a mission. His older brother claimed he was brainwashed and demanded the Palestinian Authority investigate the incident and arrest those responsible for it.[citation needed]

After Shaqaqi's death, Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been led since 1995 by fellow founder Ramadan Shalah.[citation needed]

Ideology, motives and beliefs

Ramadan Shalah was interviewed by a delegation from the World Federation of Scientists in Damascus, Syria, December 15, 2009. In this interview he argues, that the Israelis will accept neither a two state nor a one state solution and that the only choice is to continue the armed struggle until Israel's defeat.

We are the indigenous people of the land. I was born in Gaza. My family, brothers and sisters, live in Gaza. But I am not allowed to visit them. But any American or Siberian Jew is allowed to take our land. There is no possibility today of a two-state solution. That idea is dead. And there is no real prospect of a one-state solution.

... I will never, under any conditions, accept the existence of the state of Israel. I have no problem living with the Jewish people.

We have lived together in peace for centuries. And if Netanyahu were to ask if we can live together in one state, I would say to him: "If we have exactly the same rights as Jews to come to all of Palestine. If Khaled Meshaal and Ramadan Shalah can come whenever they want, and visit Haifa, and buy a home in Herzliyah if they want, then we can have a new language, and dialogue is possible."[20]


Militant activities

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for many militant activities over the years. The organization is responsible for a number of attacks including more than 30 suicide bombings; indeed, on 22 December 2001, PIJ vowed to continue its campaign despite Hamas' decision to halt suicide bombings inside Israel in response to an alleged crackdown by Yasser Arafat. PIJ’s representative in Lebanon, Abu Imad Al-Rifai noted, "Our position is to continue. We have no other choice. We are not willing to compromise.”[21] The international community considers the use of indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations[22] and the use of human shields[23][24] as illegal under international law.[25]

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad have claimed responsibility for the following attacks:

List of attacks

  • August 1987: The PIJ claimed responsibility for a shooting that killed the commander of the Israeli military police in the Gaza Strip.[2]
  • July 1989: Attack of Egged bus 405 along the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, at least 14 people killed (including two Canadians and one American) and dozens more wounded. Though intended to be a suicide attack, the perpetrator survived.[26]
  • 4 February 1990: A bus carrying Israeli tourists in Egypt was attacked. The attack left 11 people, including 9 Israelis dead and 17 others injured.[27]
  • December 1993: Killed an Israeli reservist, David Mashrati, during a public bus shooting.
  • April 1994: A car bomb aboard a public bus killed 9 people and injured 50.
  • January 1995: Bomb attack near Netanya killing eighteen soldiers and one civilian.[16]
  • April 1995: Bomb Attack in Netzarim and Kfar Darom. The first bomb killed 8 people including American student, Alisa Flatow, and injured over 30 on an Israel bus; the second attack was a car bomb that injured 12 people.
  • March 1996: A Tel Aviv shopping mall is the site of another bombing killing 20 and injuring 75.
  • November 2000: A car bomb in Jerusalem at an outdoor market killed 2 people and injured 10.[28]
  • March 2002: A bomb killed seven people and injured approximately thirty aboard a bus travelling from Tel Aviv to Nazareth.[28]
  • June 2002: Eighteen people are killed and fifty injured in an attack at the Megiddo Junction.[16]
  • July 2002: A double attack in Tel Aviv killed five people and injured 40.
  • November 2002: 12 soldiers and security personnel killed in an ambush in Hebron.[29]
  • May 2003: Three people killed and eighty-three injured in a suicide bombing at a shopping mall in Afula.
  • August 2003: A bomber killed 21 people and injured more than 100 people on a bus in Jerusalem.[28]
  • October 2003: A bomb killed 22 and injured 60 at a Haifa restaurant.
  • October 2005: A bomb detonated in a Hadera market was responsible for killing seven people and injuring 55, five of them severely.
  • April 2006: A bomb in a Tel Aviv eatery killed eleven and injured 70.
  • January 2007: Both the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and the PIJ claim responsibility for a suicide bombing at an Eilat bakery that killed three.[16]
  • June 2007, in a failed assault on an IDF position at the Kissufim crossing between Gaza and Israel in a possible attempt to kidnap IDF soldiers, four armed members of the al-Quds Brigades (the military wing of Islamic Jihad) and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (the military wing of Fatah) allegedly used a vehicle marked with "TV" and "PRESS" insignias penetrated the border fence and assaulted a guard tower in what Islamic Jihad and the army said was a failed attempt to capture an Israeli soldier.[30] IDF troops killed one militant, while the others escaped. The use of a vehicle that resembled a press vehicle evoked a sharp response from many journalists and news organizations. The Middle East director for Human Rights Watch Sarah Leah Whitsonn responded, “Using a vehicle with press markings to carry out a military attack is a serious violation of the laws of war, and it also puts journalists at risk.”[31] The FPA responded by saying,

    "Armored vehicles marked with TV are an invaluable protection for genuine journalists working in hostile environments. The FPA has long campaigned for the continued availability of armored vehicles for its members, despite official opposition in some quarters. The abuse of this recognized protection for the working journalist is a grave development and we condemn those that carried it out. Such an incident will reduce the protection offered by marked vehicles."[30]

    During a press conference, an Islamic Jihad spokesperson Abu Ahmed denied that they had put press markings on the jeep used in the attack and said, "The Al-Quds Brigades used an armoured jeep resembling military armoured jeeps used by the Zionist intelligence services."[32]
  • On 26 March 2009, two Islamic Jihad members were imprisoned for a conspiracy "to murder Israeli pilots and scientists using booby-trapped toy cars".[33]
  • On 15 November 2012, Islamic Jihad fired two Fajr-5's at Tel Aviv from Gaza, one landing in an uninhabited area of the suburbs and the other in the sea.[34]
  • On June 24, 2013, Six rockets were fired into Israel; major news outlets reported that the Islamic Jihad were behind the attacks.[35][36][37][38]

Islamic Jihad has also deployed its own rocket, similar to the Qassam rocket used by Hamas, called the Al Quds rocket.

Social services

Islamic Jihad also control dozens of religious organizations in the Palestinian territories that are registered as NGOs and operate mosques, schools, and medical facilities that offer free services.[39] Like other Islamic associations, these are heavily scrutinized by the Palestinian National Authority who have shut some of them down.[39] In one Islamic Jihad kindergarten graduation, children dressed up in military uniforms, waved guns, shouted anti-Israel slogans, and spoke of blowing themselves up to kill "Zionists".[40][41]

Notable members

See also


  1. ^ Ben Gedalyahu, Ben (7 November 2011). "Iran Backs Islamic Jihad’s 8,000-Man Army in Gaza". Israel National News. Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b BBC Who are Islamic Jihad? 9 June 2003
  3. ^ US - Office of Counterterrorism
  4. ^ List of organisations recognized as terrorist groups
  5. ^ UK home office
  6. ^ MoFA Japan
  7. ^ Public safety Canada
  8. ^ Australian national security
  9. ^ "Lists associated with Resolution 1373". New Zealand Police. 20 July 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Mannes, Aaron (2004). Profiles in Terror: The Guide to Middle East Terrorist Organizations. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 201. 
  12. ^ Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ). NCTC.
  13. ^ Government: Listing of Terrorism Organisations
  14. ^ The Gaza Strip: Who’s in charge?
  15. ^ Esposito, John, ed. (2003), "Islamic Jihad of Palestine", The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-512558-4 
  16. ^ a b c d "Palestinian Islamic Jihad". Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  17. ^ Qur'an Soorah al-Ankaboot 29:69 وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ(Arabic text)
  18. ^ St. Petersberg Times, April 23, 2006.
  19. ^ "Details and Statements On Federal Court Dismissing All Charges Against Sami Al-Arian," Jadaliyya, June 27, 2014.
  20. ^ "Interview with Ramadan Shallah, Secretary General, Palestinian Islamic Jihad". Jeannicod. 15 December 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  21. ^ "Palestinian Islamic Jihad". Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  22. ^ Kurz, Robert W.; Charles K. Bartles (2007). "Chechen suicide bombers" (PDF). Journal of Slavic Military Studies (Routledge) 20: 529–547. doi:10.1080/13518040701703070. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  23. ^ "Hamas Caught Using Human Shields in Gaza". Israel Defense Forces. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  24. ^ ERLANGER, STEVEN, and FARES AKRAM. "Israel Warns Gaza Targets by Phone and Leaflet". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  25. ^ "Protection of the civilian population". Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977. International Committee of the Red Cross. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  26. ^ "Palestinian Islamic Jihad". Retrieved 18 June 2009. 
  27. ^ Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1990 Middle East Overview
  28. ^ a b c "The Listing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)". Retrieved 8 March 2009. 
  29. ^ "Hebron ambush scene dubbed `Death Alley'". Haaretz. 17 November 2002. 
  30. ^ a b Press slams gunmen for using TV jeep | Jerusalem Post
  31. ^ Gaza: Armed Palestinian Groups Commit Grave Crimes (Human Rights Watch, 13 June 2007)
  32. ^ Journalists slam use of 'press vehicle' by Gaza militants
  33. ^ Stoil, Rebecca Anna. "Two Islamic Jihad conspirators jailed." Jerusalem Post. 26 March 2009. 27 March 2009.
  34. ^
  35. ^ Islamic Jihad in June 2013
  36. ^ JPOST June Rockets
  37. ^ TOI
  38. ^ NYT Rocketfire from Islamic Jihad
  39. ^ a b Palestinian civil society: foreign donors and the power to promote and exclude. Benoît Challand. p. 67-69.
  40. ^ Levy, Elior (12 June 2012). "Gaza kindergartners want to 'blow up Zionists'". Yedioth Ahronot. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  41. ^ "سرايا القدس الاعلام الحربي". Saraya. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  42. ^ Brother slams Palestinian militants for luring teenager into suicide mission
  43. ^ SFT: Samtal med en terrorist
  44. ^ Blast kills senior Gaza militant BBC News
  45. ^ Senior Jihad man, 14 others die in IDF strikes, Ynet, 29 December 2008
  46. ^ IAF kills senior Islamic Jihad commander, JPost, 3 April 2009

Further reading