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Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
Palestinian Islamic Jihad
PIJ-Shaqaqi Faction
PIJ-Shallah Faction
Islamic Jihad of Palestine
Islamic Jihad in Palestine
Abu Ghunaym Squad of the Hizballah Bayt al-Maqdis
Al-Quds Squads
Al-Quds Brigades
Saraya al-Quds
Al-Awdah Brigades

Israeli forces killed Baha Abu al-Atta, leader of al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, in a predawn attack on his house in the Shejaiya district in Gaza 12 November 2019. "Abu al-Atta was responsible for most of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's activity in the Gaza Strip and was a ticking bomb," according to the statement. Many viewed the killing of Baha Abu al Atta, a senior commander of Islamic Jihad, which is backed by Iran, as a political move by Netanyahu to increase his plummeting popularity across Israel.

Long before the assassination, Israel has had an eye on Atta, who had survived several attempts on his life, going back to the early 2010s. According to the Israelis, Atta was responsible for planning and preparing attacks and led efforts to manufacture arms, increasing the Palestinian capacity to launch long-range rockets. An Israeli army statement described him as “a ticking bomb” saying that he was responsible for much of the Islamic Jihad activity in the Palestinian enclave, organising attacks against Sderot, an Israeli border town, in August and November.

Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad and Israel declared a halt to hostilities across the Gaza Strip border on 14 November 2019 but a lasting cease-fire appeared tenuous as they differed on terms. Islamic Jihad said an Egyptian-­mediated truce went into effect at 03:30 GMT, about 48 hours after Israel triggered the exchange of fire by killing the Iranian-backed faction's top Gaza commander in an air strike, deeming him an imminent threat.

A few hours' calm ensued. Then witnesses in Gaza saw five rockets being launched, and sirens sounded in Israeli border towns. There was no word of casualties. Gaza medical officials put the total death toll from the two days of fighting at 34 ­Palestinians, almost half of them civilians and including eight children and three ­women. Hundreds of rocket launches by militants had paralyzed much of southern Israel and reached as far north as Tel Aviv, sending thousands of people to shelters. Dozens of Israelis were hurt.

Islamic Jihad said Israel had accepted its demand to stop both the targeted killing of militants and sometimes lethal army gunfire at weekly Palestinian protests on the Gaza border. But Israel said it would observe only a limited quid pro quo. "Quiet will be answered with quiet," Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Army Radio.

The Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is the most radical terrorist organization operating in the Palestinian arena. Palestine Islamic Jihad originated among militant Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the 1970s, committed to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel through holy war. Headed by Dr. Fathi Shqaqi and Inspired by the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has a radical fundamentalist Sunni Muslim ideology, and seeks the immediate "liberation" of Palestine. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad rejects any arrangement or agreement with Israel.

Because of its strong support for Israel, the United States has been identified as an enemy of the PIJ, but the group has not specifically conducted attacks against US interests in the past. In July 2000, however, publicly threatened to attack US interests if the US Embassy is moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Palestine Islamic Jihad was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. PIJ also opposes moderate Arab governments that it believes have been "tainted by Western secularism".

Activities

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has a military-terrorist wing called the Jerusalem Brigades which carries out terrorist attacks against Israel, including suicide bombing attacks. Today the Palestinian Islamic Jihad focuses primarily on rocket attacks, among them attacks with long-range rockets and mortar shells launched from the Gaza Strip.

PIJ terrorists have conducted numerous attacks, including large-scale suicide bombings against Israeli civilian and military targets. PIJ continued to plan and direct attacks against Israelis both inside Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza. Conducted at least three attacks against Israeli interests in late 2000, including one to commemorate the anniversary of former PIJ leader Fathi Shaqaqi's murder in Malta on 26 October 1995. Conducted suicide bombings against Israeli targets in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel.

In 2006 the terrorist infrastructures of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip played a dominant role in the firing of rockets at southern Israel. Its objective was to demonstrate its leadership, and to try to create a balance of deterrence between Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. In contrast to Fatah and Hamas, the organization did not feel any political constraints, nor did the needs of the Palestinian population commit it to a policy of restraint. It sought to escalate violence even after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Abbas reached the Gaza Strip cease-fire agreement. The PIJ was the only Palestinian terrorist organization that managed to carry out two suicide-bombing attacks in 2006, both at the same fast food restaurant near the old Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv.

In 2007 the attack policy of the PIJ was not influenced by the political exigencies influencing Hamas. The organization was responsible for a large percentage of the “routine” rocket fire plaguing Israel, its intention being to disrupt the daily lives of the residents of the western Negev. For example, on September 3, 2007, the day after school began, the PIJ launched several barrages of rockets at Sderot. At the same time the organization attempted to send terrorist operatives into Israeli territory to carry out showcase attacks.

PIJ attacks between 2008 and 2011 were primarily rocket attacks aimed at southern Israeli cities, and have also included attacking Israeli targets with explosive devices. The group is thought to be behind a large number of the record-setting 2,300 plus rockets launched from Gaza towards Israel in 2012. Additionally, in November 2012, PIJ operatives, working with Hamas, detonated a bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv, leaving 29 civilians wounded. In December 2013, four PIJ operatives were arrested by Israeli authorities for their role in a bus bombing near Tel Aviv, which was discovered in time for passengers to escape injury. The bomb hidden in a bag exploded on a bus in Bat Yam after passengers were evacuated from the vehicle. Hamas and Islamic Jihad “welcomed” the terror attack, but did not claim responsibility for the bombing. An Islamic Jihad source said he hoped this attack “could usher the resumption of suicide attacks.”

Strength

PIJ was estimated in 2013 to have fewer than 1,000 members.

Location/Area of Operation

Primarily Gaza with minimal operational presence in the West Bank and Israel. The group’s senior leadership resides in Syria, while some other leadership elements reside in Lebanon, and official representatives are scattered throughout the Middle East.

In 2003, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, or PIJ, activities and capabilities in the U.S. were severely undercut by the arrests of the U.S. PIJ leader, Sami al-Arian, and three of his top lieutenants. There have also been two additional arrests of suspected PIJ activists on charges unrelated to terrorism. There has been no indication of a new U.S. PIJ leadership since the arrest of al-Arian.

External Aid

Received financial assistance from Iran and limited logistic assistance from Syria. The Government of Iran has used Bank Saderat to channel funds to the Palestine Islamic Jihad. HAMAS and the Palestine Islamic Jihad are not part of the al-Qa'ida "family," but it is impossible to disentangle their logistics networks. Like HAMAS, but on a much smaller scale, US-based Palestine Islamic Jihad members and supporters are primarily engaged in fundraising, propaganda and proselytizing activities. The Tampa-based Islamic Concern Project (ICP) and the World and Islam Studies Enterprise are front organizations that raised funds for militant Islamic-Palestinian groups such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and HAMAS. Sudan is a state sponsor of terrorism, so designated by the U.S. Department of State. Elements of Al-Qa’ida-inspired terrorists, as well as elements of Palestine Islamic Jihad and Hamas, are located in Sudan.



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