Izzat al-Rishq is a Qatar-based founding member of Hamas’s Political Bureau who remains a high-level operative and international representative of the group. Izzat al Risheq, European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed January 27, 2022, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/izzat_al_risheq/. Rishq has served on numerous Hamas delegations to Muslim and Arab states. He also previously served as the head Hamas’s media department and 2006 electoral committee.Izzat al Risheq, European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed January 27, 2022, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/izzat_al_risheq/.
Rishq has been active on social media. Facebook has closed multiple iterations of Rishq’s accounts. On January 19, 2013, Rishq wrote a Facebook post denouncing Facebook for closing his accounts. Rishq labeled Facebook’s actions “arbitrary and unethical,” as well as biased. Izzat Al Risheq, Facebook post, January 19, 2013, https://www.facebook.com/izzat.alrisheq/posts/419158788163567. That version of Rishq’s account remained online as of April 2023, though it had not been publicly updated since 2013.Izzat Al Risheq, Facebook account, accessed April 2, 2023, https://www.facebook.com/izzat.alrisheq. He joined Twitter in January 2020 and had accrued more than 9,500 followers as of April 2, 2023.Izzat al-Rishq, Twitter account, accessed April 2, 2023, https://twitter.com/reshiq_i.
Rishq attended Kuwait University and graduated in 1983.Izzat Al Risheq, Facebook account, accessed January 27, 2022, https://www.facebook.com/izzat.alrisheq. In 1996, Jordan arrested Rishq for his involvement with Hamas and then expelled him to Qatar in 1999.Izzat al Risheq, European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed January 27, 2022, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/izzat_al_risheq/. Rishq moved to Syria in 2001. He returned to Qatar in 2012 after the outbreak of Syria’s civil war.Izzat al Risheq, European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed January 27, 2022, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/izzat_al_risheq/.
Hamas has included Rishq in multiple high-level international negotiations. On August 5, 2014, a ceasefire ended three months of conflict between Hamas and other Palestinian factions against Israel. Between June and August, Hamas fired more than 2,200 rockets toward Israel. Rishq participated in the ceasefire talks with Israel that eventually ended the confrontation. Elhanan Miller, “Hamas and Fatah: The rift,” Times of Israel, August 19, 2014, https://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-and-fatah-the-rift/; Yasmine Saleh and Lin Noueihed, “Israel, Hamas Militants Begin 72-Hour Truce,” Chicago Tribune, August 5, 2014, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-israel-hamas-gaza-truce-20140804-story.html; Adnan Aby Amer, “Hamas Readies for Israeli Ground Offensive with Tunnels, Traps,” Al-Monitor, July 9, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/originals/2014/07/palestine-gaza-hamas-preparations-israel-ground-offensive.html. In August 2017, Rishq met with Iranian Strategic Research Center director Ali Akbar Velayati and Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani in Tehran. Larijani told Rishq solidarity is essential among Muslims to be able to stand against their enemies. Rishq declared Hamas’s determination to have closer relations with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. “Iran’s Leader stresses fighting as only way to save Palestine,” Mehr News Agency, August 8, 2017, https://en.mehrnews.com/news/126967/Iran-s-Leader-stresses-fighting-as-only-way-to-save-Palestine.
Rishq has also participated in multiple Hamas delegations meeting with the Qatari leadership in that country. On December 16, 2019, Rishq participated in a Hamas delegation meeting with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani in the Qatari capital of Doha. According to Hamas, the delegation briefed Al-Thani on recent political developments, including Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements, and Jerusalem.“Senior Hamas delegation meets with Qatar emir,” Middle East Monitor, December 17, 2019, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20191217-senior-hamas-delegation-meets-with-qatar-emir/. A January 10, 2021, Hamas delegation led by Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh met with Al-Thani in Doha. The delegation also included Hamas leaders Moussa Abu Marzouk, Mohammed Nazzal, Maher Obeid, Husam Badran, and Zaher Jabareen. The delegation discussed Qatari efforts to promote Palestinian unity.“Senior Hamas delegation meets with Qatar emir,” Middle East Monitor, December 17, 2019, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20191217-senior-hamas-delegation-meets-with-qatar-emir/.
Rishq is also involved in prisoner and ceasefire negotiations with Israel. In June 2021, he joined Hamas’s negotiating team in Cairo for discussions on a prisoner exchange agreement with Israel.Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas military commanders invited to Cairo for prisoner swap talks,” Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2021, https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/hamas-military-commanders-invited-to-cairo-for-prisoner-swap-talks-670529. In April 2022, Rishq claimed Hamas and Israel were in negotiations to avoid a renewed conflict. But, calling Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque a red line, Rishq warned any aggression toward Jerusalem or Al-Aqsa would be met with “confrontation.”“Hamas 'working to avoid escalation' with Israel,” TRT World, April 16, 2022, https://www.trtworld.com/middle-east/hamas-working-to-avoid-escalation-with-israel-56413. Rishq has also been critical of the Palestinian Authority for maintaining security cooperation with Israel. Following December 2022 arrest raids by Israeli and Palestinian forces in the West Bank, Rishq questioned how the Palestinian Authority could continue to associate with Israel.Izzat al-Rishq, Twitter post, December 13, 2022, 3:00 p.m., https://twitter.com/reshiq_i/status/1602755426931589123.
On May 8, 2022, in the aftermath of an April 29 Hamas attack on the West Bank settlement of Ariel that killed one and an unclaimed May 5 attack in the Israeli city of Elad that killed three, the Times of London reported Israeli officials had told foreign allies the Jewish state would restart targeted killings of Hamas leaders abroad if such attacks continued. The Times speculated Israel would target deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri and Zaher Jabarin, responsible for financing Hamas’s international networks. Hamas issued broad threats of rocket attacks and suicide bombers if Israel began targeting its leaders.Anshel Pfeffer, “Israel ‘will assassinate Hamas leaders if terror attacks continue,’” Times (London), May 8, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/israel-will-assassinate-hamas-leaders-if-terror-attacks-continue-m7xc9cnln; Khaled Abu Toameh, “Terror groups threaten rocket strikes if Israel resumes targeted killings,” Jerusalem Post, last updated May 8, 2022, https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-706080; “Hamas vows suicide bombings, ‘unprecedented response’ if Israel targets its leaders,” Times of Israel, May 7, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-vows-suicide-bombings-unprecedented-response-if-israel-targets-its-leaders/. While Rishq threatened “immediate war” if Israel attempted to assassinate the group’s Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar.“Hamas Threatens Israel with ‘Immediate War’ if it Attempted to Assassinate Sinwar,” Asharq al-Awsat (London), May 8, 2022, https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/3633911/hamas-threatens-israel-immediate-war-if-it-attempted-assassinate-sinwar.
Rishq continues to play a central role in Hamas’s international diplomacy. In 2014, Rishq was part of Hamas’s negotiating team in talks with Fatah, the primary party of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and controlling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA).Joel Greenburg, “Israel, Hamas extend cease-fire five days,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 14, 2014, https://www.inquirer.com/philly/news/nation_world/20140814_Israel__Hamas_extend_cease-fire_five_days.html. On December 16, 2021, Rishq joined a Hamas delegation that met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani. The delegation briefed the emir on the “latest political developments, especially those related to strategic issues, above all Jerusalem, settlement activity, Palestinian refugees and the dangers posed to the Palestinian cause, in addition to attempts by some sides to politically liquidate it.”“Senior Hamas delegation meets with Qatar emir,” Middle East Monitor, December 17, 2019, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20191217-senior-hamas-delegation-meets-with-qatar-emir/. In June 2021, Rishq joined a Hamas delegation in Cairo to negotiate with Egyptian intelligence officials on a prisoner exchange agreement with Israel.Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas military commanders invited to Cairo for prisoner swap talks,” Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2021, https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/hamas-military-commanders-invited-to-cairo-for-prisoner-swap-talks-670529. In March 2023, Rishq joined a Hamas delegation to Moscow for high-level meetings with Russian government officials. According to Hamas, the meeting included discussion of Israeli settlements and settler violence. Hamas reaffirmed its commitment to violent resistance to Israel. According to Hamas, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov expressed Russia’s unwavering support for Palestinian rights.“Hamas delegation meets with Russian deputy foreign minister in Moscow,” Hamas, March 16, 2023, https://hamas.ps/en/post/4624/Hamas-delegation-meets-with-Russian-deputy-foreign-minister-in-Moscow.
- Extremist entity
- Type(s) of Organization:
- Political, religious, social service provider, terrorist, violent
- Ideologies and Affiliations:
- Islamist, jihadist, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group, pan-Islamist, Qutbist, Sunni
- Member of Hamas Political Bureau
Hamas is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization which has killed hundreds of Israeli citizens, as well as Americans, in suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks. Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since it violently expelled the Palestinian Authority in 2007.
Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.
On October 27, 2018, domestic terrorist Robert D. Bowers carried out an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He fired on congregants as they gathered for worship, killing 11 people and wounding six others.