Overview

Also Known As:“Country Reports on Terrorism 2013: Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224829.htm.

Executive Summary:

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a Palestinian Islamist terrorist group sponsored by Iran and Syria. Founded in 1979 as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, PIJ is the second-largest terrorist group in Gaza today (after Hamas). The U.S. State Department claims that PIJ has fewer than 1,000 members, though in 2011 the group claimed to have at least 8,000 battle-ready fighters in Gaza.

PIJ is dedicated to eradicating Israel and establishing an autonomous Islamic Palestinian state in the lands currently comprising Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. PIJ believes that the land of Palestine is consecrated for Islam, that Israel usurped Palestine, and, therefore, that Israel is an affront to God and Islam and that Palestine’s re-conquest is a holy task. Accordingly, PIJ refuses to negotiate with Israel, rejects a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and carries out numerous terror attacks against Israeli targets and interests. Unlike Hamas, PIJ does not participate in the political process or provide social services.

PIJ’s primary sponsor is Iran, which has provided the group with millions of dollars in direct funding, as well as training and weapons. PIJ has partnered with Iranian- and Syrian-sponsored Hezbollah in carrying out joint operations.

Based in Gaza until 1987, PIJ’s leadership was then exiled to Lebanon, where it reportedly began cooperating with Hezbollah and began receiving training from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.Holly Fletcher, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2008, http://www.cfr.org/israel/palestinian-islamic-jihad/p15984. PIJ’s leadership relocated to Syria in 1989, but left a small group in Lebanon that launched joint attacks with Hezbollah in the 1990s.Holly Fletcher, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2008, http://www.cfr.org/israel/palestinian-islamic-jihad/p15984. Syria has also provided military aid and sanctuary to PIJ, allowing the terrorist group’s leadership to occupy a Syrian Army base from 1989 until 2012.“Country Reports on Terrorism 2013: Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224829.htm.

According to the U.S. State Department, PIJ’s senior leadership continues to reside in Syria and some other leaders live in Lebanon, though most PIJ members live in Gaza.“Country Reports on Terrorism 2013: Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224829.htm. International Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported in 2012 that PIJ’s Syria-based leadership had relocated to Iran but continued to enjoy positive ties with their Syrian patrons. However, a PIJ official denied that report, claiming “relations between [PIJ] and the Syrian government are excellent, unlike Hamas,”“Islamic Jihad Leadership Relocates to Iran,” Asharq Al-Awsat (London), July 22, 2012, http://www.aawsat.net/2012/07/article55241265. whose leadership left Syria after refusing to support the Assad regime during the Syrian civil war. Official representatives of the group are also stationed elsewhere in the Middle East,“Country Reports on Terrorism 2013: Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224829.htm. including Iran.Asmaa al-Ghoul, “Hamas Isolated as Iran Boosts Ties with Islamic Jihad, Fatah,” Al-Monitor, February 12, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/originals/2014/02/islamic-jihad-fatah-hamas-iran-palestinians.html; “Islamic Jihad: Israeli Attacks on Gaza Backfired,” Tasnim News Agency, July 15, 2014, http://www.tasnimnews.com/english/Home/Single/432079.

Doctrine:

PIJ aims to create a state based on sharia (Islamic law) in all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River—including Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Like Hamas, PIJ portrays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a religious clash, not merely a territorial dispute. PIJ believes that the land of Palestine is consecrated for Islam and that, therefore, Israel usurped Palestine. Consequently, Israel’s very existence is an affront to God and Islam, and destroying Israel and reconquering Palestine are religious obligations.

In PIJ’s ideology, an Islamic state of Palestine can be established only through jihad (holy war) and the destruction of Israel. According to the “Manifesto of the Islamic Jihad in Palestine,” a document discovered by federal authorities investigating a Florida man with suspected PIJ ties, the group rejects “any peaceful solution to the Palestinian cause” and affirms “the Jihad solution and the martyrdom style as the only choice for liberation.”“Statement of the Attorney General Indictments,” U.S. Department of Justice, February 20, 2003, http://www.justice.gov/archive/ag/speeches/2003/02202003pressconference.htm. Accordingly, PIJ completely rejects negotiations with Israel or a two-state solution.

PIJ’s founders, Fathi Shaqaqi and Abd al-Aziz Awda, drew initial inspiration from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. However, both men left the Brotherhood in the late 1970s, feeling the group had become too moderate and did not focus enough on the plight of the Palestinians.Holly Fletcher, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2008, http://www.cfr.org/israel/palestinian-islamic-jihad/p15984. Inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution in Iran, Shaqaqi and Awda founded PIJ on the principles Khomeini advocated, with the goal of creating an Islamic state within the land that constituted the Palestine mandate prior to Israel’s creation in 1948.Holly Fletcher, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2008, http://www.cfr.org/israel/palestinian-islamic-jihad/p15984.

PIJ is dedicated singularly to violent jihad. While Hamas has engaged in indirect talks with Israel (including on prisoner exchanges and ceasefires), PIJ refuses to negotiate with Israel (though the group has participated in pan-Palestinian ceasefires negotiated by Egypt). Also unlike Hamas, PIJ generally does not provide social services.Holly Fletcher, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2008, http://www.cfr.org/israel/palestinian-islamic-jihad/p15984. However, in 2013, when Iran and Hamas were estranged due to Hamas’s abandonment of the Iranian-allied Assad regime in Syria’s civil war, Iran tasked PIJ with distributing $2 million in Iranian food aid in Gaza from the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation, a Beirut-based Iranian charity. The New York Times interpreted the move as an attempt to extend Iran’s influence in Gaza while undermining Hamas and strengthening the rival PIJ.Fares Akram, “In Gaza, Iran Finds an Ally More Agreeable Than Hamas,” New York Times, July 31, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/01/world/middleeast/in-gaza-iran-finds-a-closer-ally-than-hamas.html.

Organizational Structure:

Ramadan Shallah, a former professor at the University of South Florida, has served as PIJ’s secretary general since his predecessor, PIJ founder Fathi Shaqaqi, was killed by Israel’s Mossad in 1995.Susan Aschoff, “Jihad Leader Emerged from Shadows of USF,” St. Petersburg Times, February 21, 2003, http://www.sptimes.com/2003/02/21/TampaBay/Jihad_leader_emerged_.shtml. PIJ is governed by a leadership council.“Islamic Jihad Leadership Relocates to Iran,” Asharq Al-Awsat, July 22, 2012, http://www.aawsat.net/2012/07/article55241265.

The al-Quds Brigades, PIJ’s armed wing, carries out violent attacks against Israel. The Brigades has regional staff commands. Each member within a command oversees a cell within that command’s region. The PIJ leadership issues orders and staff commanders carry out PIJ operations and coordinate cells.“Terrorist Organization Profile: Al-Quds Brigades,” START: National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, accessed June 28, 2014, http://www.start.umd.edu/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=4430. The U.S. State Department claims that PIJ has fewer than 1,000 members,“Country Reports on Terrorism 2013: Chapter 6. Terrorist Organizations,” U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224829.htm. though the group claimed in 2011 to have at least 8,000 battle-ready fighters in Gaza.Crispian Balmer and Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Islamist Jihad Ready for All-Out War with Israel,” Reuters, November 3, 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/03/us-palestinians-israel-islamicjihad-idUSTRE7A24RR20111103.

Financing:

Iran is PIJ’s primary source of financial support, according to the U.S. State Department.“Country Reports on Terrorism 2013: Chapter 6. Terrorist Organizations,” U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224829.htm. A 1998 lawsuit against Iran in U.S. federal court revealed that the Islamic Republic allocated $2 million in its annual budget to PIJ.Richard Sisk, “Terror Victim’s Dad Wins $247M Lawsuit Vs. Iran,” New York Daily News, March 12, 1998, http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/terror-victim-dad-wins-247m-lawsuit-iran-article-1.789077. That number has since skyrocketed—in late 2013, PIJ sources revealed that the terror group received about $3 million per month from Iran.Hazem Balousha, “Islamic Jihad May Respond If Israel Enters Syria War,” Al-Monitor, September 2, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/islamic-jihad-syria-us-strike.html. During the 2012 war between Israel and Hamas, PIJ fired rockets into Israeli territory and hung banners across Gaza streets with the phrase, “Thank you, Iran.”Hazem Balousha, “Islamic Jihad May Respond If Israel Enters Syria War,” Al-Monitor, September 2, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/islamic-jihad-syria-us-strike.html. A February 2014 report by Ali Nourizadeh, director of the Center for Iranian Studies in London, stated that Iran provides PIJ with $100 to $150 million annually.“Expert: Hamas Received $2 Billion from Iran; Islamic Jihad Gets $150 Million Annually,” Algemeiner, February 11, 2014, http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/02/11/expert-hamas-received-2-billion-from-iran-islamic-jihad-gets-150-million-annually/.

In mid-2015, a senior PIJ leader said the group was suffering from its worst financial crisis in history. One PIJ leader attributed the crisis to Egypt’s closure of the smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border. The same source also said Iran had cut back its funding to the group.Hazem Balousha, “Islamic Jihad’s coffers run dry,” Al-Monitor, June 2, 2015, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/06/palestine-islamic-jihad-financial-crisis-money-iran-hezbolla.html. Iran reportedly cut funding because PIJ refused to issue a statement supporting Iran in its conflict against Saudi Arabia in Yemen.Khaled Abu Toameh, “Report: Iran stops cash flow to Islamic Jihad organization,” Jerusalem Post, May 21, 2015, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Report-Iran-stops-cash-flow-to-Islamic-Jihad-organization-403727. Iran had reportedly cut PIJ’s funding by 90 percent as of January 2016. The loss in funding allegedly forced PIJ to slash salaries of its employees. According to media reports, Iran still considers PIJ a “friend” but one the country is unable to continue to support financially. PIJ’s leaders insist the group still has good relations with Iran.“Iran cuts 90% of support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Middle East Monitor, January 11, 2016, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/23278-iran-cuts-90-of-support-for-palestinian-islamic-jihad.

Recruitment and Training:

Recruitment

Fathi Shaqaqi founded PIJ after being jailed for his involvement in the Palestine Liberation Force.Stephen E. Atkins, Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004), 239. Original PIJ recruits included ex-prisoners Shaqaqi met in jail, upon their return to the Gaza Strip.Stephen E. Atkins, Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004), 239. Shaqaqi was also able to recruit in the early 1980s through early PIJ member Abdul Aziz Awda, a popular preacher and professor of Islamic law. Awda attracted many to the PIJ cause through his sermons at one of Gaza’s largest mosques.Stephen E. Atkins, Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004), 239.

Since PIJ’s goal has always been to execute strategic military operations against Israel, the group has focused on targeted recruiting rather than simply gaining a large membership. For example, PIJ recruited students to demonstrate at Bir Zeit University in the early 1980s. An April 1987 incident resulted in Israeli forces opening fire on demonstrators, resulting in the death of one student.Stephen E. Atkins, Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004), 239.

PIJ’s leadership began recruiting suicide bombers in the early 1990s and originally did not permit women to serve in that role. However, PIJ officially began recruiting female suicide bombers in 2003, justifying women bombers as defending their honor against Israeli invaders. PIJ’s first female suicide bomber, a 19-year-old student named Hiba Daraghmeh, attacked a shopping mall, killing three.Debra D. Zedalis, “Female Suicide Bombers,” Strategic Studies Institute, June 2004, http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub408.pdf. The next such bomber, Hanadi Jaradat, a 29-year-old lawyer, blew herself up in a restaurant in October 2003, killing 21.Debra D. Zedalis, “Female Suicide Bombers,” Strategic Studies Institute, June 2004, http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub408.pdf. Selection and persuasion methods for women suicide bombers are similar to those employed for men. Recruiters of female suicide bombers “take advantage of the candidates’ innocence, enthusiasm, personal distress, and thirst for revenge,” according to U.S. Army civilian professional Debra Zedalis.Debra D. Zedalis, “Female Suicide Bombers,” Strategic Studies Institute, June 2004, http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub408.pdf.

Training

Like other violent Islamist groups, PIJ uses training methods and tactics such as exercises in suicide operations and battlefield tactics against Israeli soldiers. PIJ has boasted of opening its ranks to children as young as six years old. PIJ “summer camps” draw as many as 10,000 participants per session.Harriet Sherwood, “Playing Politics: Summer Camp for Gaza’s Children,” Guardian (London), July 29, 2010, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jul/29/gaza-children-militant-summer-camps. The camps’ activities include wielding AK-47s, planting land mines, and mock operations to kidnap Israeli soldiers.“Following Hamas Lead, PIJ Opens Camps to Train Child Soldiers,” Tower, June 13, 2013, http://www.thetower.org/following-hamas-lead-palestinian-islamic-jihad-opens-camps-to-train-child-soldiers/. PIJ spokesman Daoud Shihab describes such training of children as a way to ensure “a generation strong [in] resistance.”“Following Hamas Lead, PIJ Opens Camps to Train Child Soldiers,” Tower, June 13, 2013, http://www.thetower.org/following-hamas-lead-palestinian-islamic-jihad-opens-camps-to-train-child-soldiers/.

These “Generation of Faith” camps are not restricted to combat training, however. Recruits are “educated intellectually, militarily, and politically.”Hazem Balousha, “Islamic Jihad, Hamas Hold Military Training Camps for Children,” Al-Monitor, June 21, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/06/gaza-summer-camps-children-islamic-jihad.html#. Ahmad al-Moudalal, a PIJ leader who helps to train children fighters, explained, “We are resistance movements. It is therefore normal for us to want to attract young people, instill the culture of resistance in their minds and prepare them to bear arms against the Israeli enemy.”Hazem Balousha, “Islamic Jihad, Hamas Hold Military Training Camps for Children,” Al-Monitor, June 21, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/06/gaza-summer-camps-children-islamic-jihad.html#.

Key Leaders

  • Ramadan Abdullah Shallah

    Secretary-General
  • Fathi Shaqaqi

    Fathi Shaqaqi

    Co-founder, former secretary general (deceased)
  • Abd al-Aziz Awda

    Abd al-Aziz Awda

    Co-founder
  • Ziyad al-Nakhalah

    Ziyad al-Nakhalah

    Deputy Secretary General

History

 

Violent Activities

A key component of PIJ’s doctrine is the belief in violent jihad in order to liberate Palestine. PIJ has been responsible for numerous suicide attacks and hundreds of rockets against Israeli civilian centers, resulting in the deaths of dozens of Israeli civilians and soldiers. While PIJ has signed on to wider Palestinian ceasefires with Israel, it is highly unlikely the group will ever renounce terrorism, which has become an integral part of PIJ’s raison d’etre. PIJ believes its goal of creating an Islamic Palestine can be achieved only through the destruction of Israel, and so jihad has become a central tenant of PIJ’s ideology. In pursuit of its jihadist ideology, PIJ has launched numerous bombing attacks against Israeli civilian targets.

Designations

Designations by the U.S. Government:

October 8, 1997: Secretary of State designates Palestine Islamic Jihad - Shaqaqi Faction as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.“Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” U.S. Department of State, May 30, 2013, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2012/209989.htm.

Designations by Foreign Governments and Organizations:

Australia—listed PIJ as a terrorist organization on December 21, 2001.“Consolidated list,” Australian Government, accessed March 2, 2015, http://www.dfat.gov.au/sanctions/consolidated-list.html.Canada—listed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as a terrorist entity on November 27, 2002.“Currently Listed Entities,” Public Safety Canada, accessed March 3, 2015, http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2040.
EU—listed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as groups and entities involved in terrorist acts on December 27, 2001.“Council Common Position of 27 December 2001 on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism,” EUR-LEX, accessed March 3, 2015, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32001E0931&from=EN. New Zealand—listed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as a terrorist entity on October 11, 2010.“Lists associated with Resolution 1373,” New Zealand Police, accessed March 3, 2015, http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/personal-community/counterterrorism/designated-entities/lists-associated-with-resolution-1373.
United Kingdom—listed Palestinian Islamic Jihad - Shaqaqi (PIJ) as an organization believed to be concerned in terrorism in March 2001.“Proscribed Terrorist Organizations,” UK Home Office, last updated February 3, 2015, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/400902/Proscription-20150123.pdf. 

Associations

Ties to Extremist Entities designated by the U.S. or foreign governments:

Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)
PIJ’s founders modeled the group’s Islamist objectives under the influence of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran is PIJ’s primary source of financial support, according to the U.S. State Department.Holly Fletcher, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2008, http://www.cfr.org/israel/palestinian-islamic-jihad/p15984. A 1998 lawsuit against Iran in U.S. federal court revealed that the Islamic Republic allocated $2 million in its annual budget to PIJ.Richard Sisk, “Terror Victim’s Dad Wins $247M Lawsuit Vs. Iran,” New York Daily News, March 12, 1998, http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/terror-victim-dad-wins-247m-lawsuit-iran-article-1.789077. That number has since skyrocketed—in late 2013, PIJ sources revealed that the terror group received about $3 million per month from Iran.Hazem Balousha, “Islamic Jihad May Respond If Israel Enters Syria War,” Al-Monitor, September 2, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/islamic-jihad-syria-us-strike.html. A February 2014 report by Ali Nourizadeh, director of the Center for Iranian Studies in London, stated that Iran provides PIJ with $100 to $150 million annually.Joshua Levitt, “Expert: Hamas Received $2 Billion from Iran; Islamic Jihad Gets $150 Million Annually,” Algemeiner, February 11, 2014, http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/02/11/expert-hamas-received-2-billion-from-iran-islamic-jihad-gets-150-million-annually/.

According to PIJ spokesman Daoud Shihab, “all of the weapons in Gaza are provided by Iran,” and “everyone knows that Iran is financing” PIJ.Asmaa al-Ghoul, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Iran Supplies All Weapons in Gaza,” Al-Monitor, May 14, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/05/gaza-islamic-jihad-and-iranian-arms.html. In February 2014, a group of PIJ leaders, including Ramadan Shallah, made what Shihab called a “routine visit” to Tehran, which “still supports resistance factions.”Asmaa al-Ghoul, “Hamas Isolated as Iran Boosts Ties with Islamic Jihad, Fatah,” Al-Monitor, February 12, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/islamic-jihad-fatah-hamas-iran-palestinians.html.

PIJ also receives aid through Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).Holly Fletcher, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2008, http://www.cfr.org/israel/palestinian-islamic-jihad/p15984. The IRGC is Iran’s primary instrument for spreading the Islamic Revolution abroad and has acted as a conduit between the Iranian regime and PIJ. The IRGC provides PIJ with weapons, training, and funding. It reportedly began sending support after the PIJ was exiled to Lebanon in 1987.Holly Fletcher, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2008, http://www.cfr.org/israel/palestinian-islamic-jihad/p15984.

Since the beginning of the 2011 Syrian civil war, Iran has reportedly increased its support of PIJ at the expense of Hamas. Unlike Hamas, Iran supports Syria’s Assad regime and PIJ has noticeably maintained its base in Damascus, Syria (although PIJ otherwise appears to be neutral).Fares Akram, “In Gaza, Iran Finds an Ally More Agreeable Than Hamas,” New York Times, July 31, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/01/world/middleeast/in-gaza-iran-finds-a-closer-ally-than-hamas.html; Asmaa al-Ghoul, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Iran Supplies All Weapons in Gaza,” Al-Monitor, May 14, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/originals/2013/05/gaza-islamic-jihad-and-iranian-arms.html.. In 2013, Iran sent $2 million worth of food aid to Gaza during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, entrusting members of PIJ with distribution. This aid bore stamps with the Palestinian flag alongside the PIJ logo and the Iranian flag.Fares Akram, “In Gaza, Iran Finds an Ally More Agreeable Than Hamas,” New York Times, July 31, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/01/world/middleeast/in-gaza-iran-finds-a-closer-ally-than-hamas.html.

International Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported in 2012 that PIJ’s Syria-based leadership had relocated to Iran but continued to enjoy positive ties with their Syrian patrons. However, a PIJ official denied that report, claiming “relations between [PIJ] and the Syrian government are excellent, unlike Hamas,”“Islamic Jihad Leadership Relocates to Iran,” Asharq Al-Awsat (London), July 22, 2012, http://www.aawsat.net/2012/07/article55241265. whose leadership left Syria after refusing to support the Assad regime during the Syrian civil war. Official representatives of the group are also stationed elsewhere in the Middle East,“Country Reports on Terrorism 2013: Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224829.htm. including Iran.Asmaa al-Ghoul, “Hamas Isolated as Iran Boosts Ties with Islamic Jihad, Fatah,” Al-Monitor, February 12, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/islamic-jihad-fatah-hamas-iran-palestinians.html; “Islamic Jihad: Israeli Attacks on Gaza Backfired,” Tasnim News Agency, July 15, 2014, http://www.tasnimnews.com/english/Home/Single/432079l.
Hamas
PIJ and Hamas collaborate militarily in order to fight Israel. During the first and second Palestinian intifadas, Hamas and PIJ claimed joint responsibility for a handful of attacks, including an April 9, 1995 suicide bombing that killed seven Israeli soldiers and an American.“Major Bomb Attacks Since 1993 Peace Accord,” Fox News, December 2, 2001, http://www.foxnews.com/story/2001/12/02/major-bomb-attacks-since-13-peace-accord/. The groups continued coordinated attacks after the end of the second intifada and after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. In November 2012, for example, PIJ and Hamas jointly bombed a Tel Aviv bus, wounding 29 people.Gil Cohen, “Israel Arrests Hamas, Islamic Jihad Cell behind Tel Aviv Bus Bomb,” Haaretz (Tel Aviv), November 22, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-arrests-hamas-islamic-jihad-cell-behind-tel-aviv-bus-bomb-1.479958.

After Hamas’s falling out with Iran in 2012, relations between Hamas and PIJ also degraded. Fighters from the two organizations clashed amid accusations that Hamas was targeting PIJ. In September 2013, however, the two terror groups announced plans to form a new joint command to create a better political atmosphere in Gaza.Elhanan Miller, “Hamas and Islamic Jihad to Form Joint Command,” Times of Israel, September 17, 2013, http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-and-islamic-jihad-to-form-joint-command/.

In March 2014, PIJ fired a round of mortars into Israel, prompting an Israeli strike that killed three PIJ commanders. In retaliation, PIJ launched at least 130 locally made rockets into Israel as part of a military operation called Breaking the Silence, reportedly in coordination with Hamas.Hani Ibrahim, “Hamas’ Growing Rivalry with Islamic Jihad,” Al Akhbar English (Beirut), April 16, 2014, http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/hamas%E2%80%99-growing-rivalry-islamic-jihad. PIJ and Hamas also jointly launched rockets at Israel during Israel’s summer 2014 conflict with Hamas.“Hamas, Jihad claim joint attacks on Israeli cities,” Ma’an News Agency, July 15, 2014, http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?id=713412.
Hezbollah
In 1987, PIJ was exiled from Gaza to Lebanon. There, the group reportedly began cooperating with Hezbollah and began training under Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.Holly Fletcher, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2008, http://www.cfr.org/israel/palestinian-islamic-jihad/p15984.

In July 2014, masked members of PIJ were filmed thanking Hezbollah, particularly its Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, for Hezbollah’s “stance and support, be it with financial, military or moral support.”“Palestinian Islamic Jihad Thanks Iran and Hezbollah,” Iran English Radio, July 14, 2014, http://english.irib.ir/galleries/item/191912.
Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades
PIJ and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the armed faction of Fatah, have carried out a handful of joint terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Examples include an April 2006 suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv sandwich stand that killed 11 people“TIMELINE: Recent Bomb and Shooting Attacks against Israelis,” Haaretz (Tel Aviv), November 21, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/timeline-recent-bomb-and-shooting-attacks-against-israelis-1.479592. and a January 2007 suicide attack on an Eilat bakery that killed three.Holly Fletcher, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2008, http://www.cfr.org/israel/palestinian-islamic-jihad/p15984.

Ties to other entities:

Syria
PIJ has been based in Damascus since 1989. An anonymous PIJ source told London’s Asharq Al-Awsat in July 2012 that the PIJ leadership fled Syria for Iran,“Islamic Jihad Leadership Relocates to Iran,” Asharq Al-Awsat (London), July 22, 2012, http://www.aawsat.net/2012/07/article55241265. though PIJ officially denied that it had abandoned its base in Syria.“Islamic Jihad Leadership Relocates to Iran,” Asharq Al-Awsat (London), July 22, 2012, http://www.aawsat.net/2012/07/article55241265. Despite Iranian support for PIJ and Syria, PIJ has otherwise appeared to remain neutral in the Syrian civil war.Asmaa al-Ghoul, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Iran Supplies All Weapons in Gaza,” Al-Monitor, May 14, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/originals/2013/05/gaza-islamic-jihad-and-iranian-arms.html. According to PIJ spokesperson Daoud Shihab, “Palestine is greater than all axes, and we do not accept to be part of the [Syria] conflict.”Asmaa al-Ghoul, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Iran Supplies All Weapons in Gaza,” Al-Monitor, May 14, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/originals/2013/05/gaza-islamic-jihad-and-iranian-arms.html. PIJ has, however, threatened to respond if Israel involves itself in the Syrian civil war.Hazem Balousha, “Islamic Jihad May Respond If Israel Enters Syria War,” Al-Monitor, September 2, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/islamic-jihad-syria-us-strike.html.

Media Coverage

Rhetoric

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Abu Imad al-Rifai, PIJ representative in Lebanon, January 19, 2015

“When the Syrians see that there is a war between Israel and the (Syrian) regime, a large part of the opposition will stand alongside the regime, and fight the Israeli enemy… We are part of the resistance, and we will be at the middle of the fighting with the Israeli enemy if it breaks out. Within 72 hours, half of the Galilee will have fallen into the hands of the resistance, because the Israeli army’s ability to stand ground has been corroded.”“#4739 - Palestinian Islamic Jihad Representative: In a Future War, Half the Galilee Will Fall within 72 Hours,” MEMRI TV, accessed March 2, 2015, http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/4739.htm.

PIJ statement on a terrorist attack in which four rabbis were murdered in a synagogue, November 18, 2014

“The operation in Jerusalem was a natural reaction to the crimes committed by the Israeli Occupation Forces and Zionist settlers.”“Two Palestinian storm Jerusalem synagogue, kill four Israelis,” Al Akhbar English (Beirut), November 18, 2014, http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/22524.

Anonymous PIJ militant, September 9, 2014

“We are now inside one of the tunnels of the Al-Quds Brigades [the military arm of PIJ], on which work began the minute the war on Gaza ended and the ceasefire was declared… We will not be hindered by the threats of the enemy or by the ban on importing cement and other building materials…These tunnels will also have other uses, which we will not disclose. [These tunnels will be used for] launching anti-tank weapons, especially the Kornet missile… Allah willing, we are awaiting instructions to go out and take on the targets of the enemy.”“Video shows Islamic Jihad’s new Gaza tunnels,” i24 News, September 9, 2014, http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/43188-140909-video-shows-islamic-jihad-s-new-gaza-tunnels; “#4478-Palestinian Islamic Jihad Digs New Tunnels in Gaza,” Middle East Media Research Institute, September 4, 2014, http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/4478.htm.

Nasser Abu Sharif, PIJ representative, August 27, 2014

“As the Zionist settlers were forced to emigrate from the settlements around the Gaza Strip, we will certainly witness the return of all the Zionists to their original places of residence outside Palestine in not-too-distant future.”“Islamic Jihad lauds Leader’s backing for resistance,” Press TV, August 27, 2014, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/08/27/376781/islamic-jihad-hails-leader-backing/.

Khader Habib, senior PIJ leader, August 2014

“The issue of arms is connected to the existence of the occupation. This right is guaranteed by the laws of heaven and earth… When the Israeli occupation felt it had failed to face the resistance, it put all of its power in destroying homes and infrastructure in order to break the will of the fighters. Our nation will continue fighting until achieving all the goals set by the resistance.”“Islamic Jihad: Halting War and Ending Gaza Siege Are Not Demands but Rights,” Middle East Monitor, August 7, 2014, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13310-islamic-jihad-halting-war-and-ending-gaza-siege-are-not-demands-but-rights.

Daoud Shihad, July 2014

“Israel is targeting the Palestinians… I would just like to remind you of the ruling by the Israeli rabbis, who have instructed the soldiers to knead the [dough for] the bread that the Jews eat with the blood of Arab and Palestinian children.”Lazar Berman, “Islamic Jihad: IDF Soldiers Told to Bake Palestinian Blood into Bread,” Times of Israel, July 27, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/islamic-jihad-idf-soldiers-told-to-bake-palestinian-blood-into-bread/.

Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, May 2014

“In the past two decades, Iran has had an outstanding stance on Palestine, Israel and the resistance.” Ibrahim Humeidi, “Islamic Jihad Leader Discusses Iran, Reconcilitation,” Al-Monitor, May 22, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/politics/2014/05/palestine-syria-iran-islamic-jihad-interview-reconciliation.html.

Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, May 2014

“This is what Israel and its allies want, for all of its enemies from all parties in Syria and the region to fight [each other]. What could be better [for them]?” Ibrahim Humeidi, “Islamic Jihad Leader Discusses Iran, Reconcilitation,” Al-Monitor, May 22, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/politics/2014/05/palestine-syria-iran-islamic-jihad-interview-reconciliation.html.

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