Explained: What Is Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Explained: What Is Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Israel has blamed the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) for the rocket attack on the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza that killed hundreds of civilians.

PIJ which is an ally of Hamas, is designated as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department and it violently opposes the existence of Israel.

Origin of Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Palestinian students in Egypt formed the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in 1981 with the intention of setting up a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank, Gaza, and other regions of what is now Israel. The smaller of the two major Palestinian organisations in the Gaza Strip, PIJ, are considerably outnumbered by the Hamas movement, which controls the territory.

Two Palestinian activists, Abd Al Aziz Awda and Fathi Shaqaqi (assassinated in 1995 by Mossag agents), who were formerly members of the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood (formed in Egypt), founded the organisation.

It aims to establish a sovereign, the Islamic state of Palestine within the boundaries that existed prior to 1948, the year when Israel was founded. Israel’s destruction is one of its proclaimed goals.

Alleged attacks under their name

The PIJ has reportedly been linked to a number of suicide bombings in Israel, the first of which was the 1989 bus 405 suicide strike between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, which resulted in the deaths of 16 passengers.

Other incidents include a 2001 suicide explosion at a nightclub in Tel Aviv that killed 21 people and a 2002 suicide attack at an Israeli highway crossing called Meggido Junction that left 18 people dead.

According to an Al-Jazeera report, despite being a small group, PIJ is said to be extremely effective and well-organized. The party itself is quite well organised. It has taken part in every fight with Israel despite its small size.

But in the past, the larger Hamas movement, which has presided in Gaza since it won the 2007 elections, has frequently overshadowed PIJ. Hamas, the body in charge of Gaza and currently facing a number of administrative issues, chose not to take part in the clashes which allowed the small militant faction to emerge as the focal point of the most recent flare-up in Gaza.

Israeli authorities consider the PIJ to be one of the most extremist and dangerous Palestinian armed groups, and they accuse it of maintaining military facilities and arsenals in Syria as well as maintaining a large number of small inexpensive weapons scattered throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

Iran-backed terrorist group?

According to the European Council on Foreign Relations, PIJ is linked to both the Egyptian intelligence service and the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

The group’s relationship with Iran, which supports it with finance and weapons, is more significant. According to reports, Iranian forces have trained the Al-Quds Brigades on how to manufacture weapons domestically.

According to reports, on Friday, the extremist group’s commander was meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran while Israel was carrying out attacks on Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

The militant group also maintains close relations with Iran through its affiliates in Lebanon and Syria. In fact, after being driven out of Gaza in 1987, it moved its stronghold to Lebanon in order to forge ties with Hezbollah. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards also provided training to the group.

The PIJ, like Hamas, has occasionally found itself at odds with its Iranian backers over regional problems like the Yemeni conflict. The PIJ’s top officials have not condemned the Saudi-led attacks on the nation.

According to the CIA’S World Factbook, the PIJ currently ran a secret organisation with fewer than 1,000 members. It does not have much to lose by attacking Israel because of its low level of popularity in Gaza.

Targeting key commanders

PIJ lost some of its most important members during the conflict in 2022.

Taiseer al-Jabari, who according to Israeli media directed shooting rockets and deploying anti-tank missiles at the borders of the Gaza Strip, was one of the high-ranking al-Quds commanders killed in the attacks.

Bassam al-Saadi, a well-known al-Quds member who has spent decades in Israeli jails for his role in organising and conducting military operations, was arrested by Israeli troops earlier this week and killed in the process.

The Israeli military claimed that they had launched strikes in advance to prevent the PIJ from retaliating against them after his detention, which started the conflict.

Another prominent al-Quds leader, Khaled Mansour, was killed in the southern part of Gaza. According to the Israeli army, he was responsible for a 2010 attack that claimed the lives of two Israeli soldiers. He was also charged with involvement in more such attacks.

Source » msn.com