Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Islamic Jihad Movement
حركة الجهاد الإسلامي في فلسطين
Leader Ramadan Shalah
Founder Ramadan Shalah
Fathi Shaqaqi
Shekh Odeh
Founded 1970s
Membership fewer than 1,000[1]
Ideology Anti-Zionism
Palestinian Nationalism
Arab Nationalism
Sunni Islamism
Political position Not Applicable
Religion Sunni Islam
Politics of Palestine
Political parties

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] and Israel. Iran is a major financial supporter of the PIJ.[9][10][11][12]

History and background

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.[13] 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.[14] 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 healt and women 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, when it relocated its headquarters to Iran.[15][unreliable source?]

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."[16] 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 Saudi Arabia. With similar goals, Hamas and the PIJ have worked together on a number of projects.The PIJ have both Sunni and Shia members, promote Islamism and Sharia law and fight to establish an Islamic state.

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.[17] In November 2006 he was found guilty of civil contempt for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury. He served 21 months in prison on that conviction.

Islamic Jihad is alleged to have used minors as members of this committee. 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 revenge on Israel. His older brother claimed he was brainwashed and demanded the Palestinian Authority investigate the incident and arrest those responsible for it.

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

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."[18]


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 terror campaign despite Hamas' decision to halt suicide bombings inside Israel in response to a 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.”[19] 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.[20]
  • 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.[21]
  • 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.[14]
  • April 1995: Bomb Attack in Netzarim and Kfar Darom. The first bomb killed 8 people 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.[22]
  • June 2001: Bomb attack at a Tel Aviv nightclub killing 21 people.[14]
  • March 2002: A Bomb killed seven people and injured approximately thirty aboard a bus travelling from Tel Aviv to Nazareth.[22]
  • June 2002: Eighteen people are killed and fifty injured in an attack at the Megiddo Junction.[14]
  • July 2002: A double attack killed five people and injured 40 in Tel Aviv.
  • November 2002: 12 soldiers and security personnel killed in an ambush in Hebron.[23]
  • 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.[22]
  • October 2003: Bomb killed 22 and injured 60 at a Haifa restaurant.
  • October 2005: A bomb detonated in a Hedera market was responsible for killing five people.
  • April 2006: Bomb in Tel Aviv killed eleven.
  • January 2007: Both the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and the PIJ claim responsibility for a suicide bombing at an Eilat bakery that killed three.[14]
  • 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.[24] 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.”[25] 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."[24]
    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."[26]
  • On 26 March 2009, two Islamic Jihad members were imprisoned for a conspiracy "to murder Israeli pilots and scientists using booby-trapped toy cars".[27]
  • 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.[28]
  • On June 24, 2013, Six rockets were fired into Israel; major news outlets reported that the Islamic Jihad were behind the attacks.[29][30][31][32]

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.[33] Like other Islamic associations, these are heavily scrutinized by the Palestinian National Authority who have shut some of them down.[33] 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".[34][35]

Islamic Jihad also operates dozens of summer camps for children. They have opened up 51 summer camps which attracted approximately 10,000 children in 2010.

We teach the children the truth. How the Jews persecuted the prophets and tortured them. We stress that the Jews killed and slaughtered Arabs and Palestinians every chance they got. Most important, the children understand that the conflict with the Jews is not over land, but rather over religion. As long as Jews remain here, between the [Jordan] river and the sea, they will be our enemy and we will continue to pursue and kill them. When they leave we won't hurt them."

Notable members

See also


Further reading

  • BBC: Israel and the Palestinians
  • PIJ at Human Rights Watch
  • Institute for Counter-terrorism
  • Quartet to Syria: Block 'Jihad' 5 December 2005
  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad Website