What Is Islamic Jihad Group?

What Is Islamic Jihad Group
What Is Islamic Jihad Group

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, Israel is behind the bombing of the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist hospital, which the Israeli army blames on a “misfired rocket” by Palestine’s Islamic Jihad group.

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At least 500 people were killed in a hospital explosion in Gaza on Tuesday. A number of Muslim-majority countries demonstrated in protest over the incident. As US President Joe Biden was en route to Israel, he denounced the incident, blaming both Israel and Palestine for it.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, Israel is behind the bombing of the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist hospital, which the Israeli army blames on a “misfired rocket” by Palestine’s Islamic Jihad group.

But what is the Islamic Jihad group?

The Beginnings

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an ally of Hamas, has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States State Department.

In 1928, Hassan al-Banna founded the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist social movement founded by Fathi Shaqaqi and Abd al-Aziz Awda. They believed that the Brotherhood was not fully committed to the Palestinian cause in the late 1970s.

Shaqaqi and Awda were inspired by the Iranian revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to create a militant group dedicated to destroying Israel.

Following the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981, the Egyptian government exiled PIJ to Gaza.

Operations In Gaza

PIJ operates as a decentralized, compartmentalized organization that prioritizes attacking Israel, while avoiding prominent social, welfare, and political roles played by other Islamic extremist groups in the region, such as Hamas, Fatah, or even Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.

A few months before the first Palestinian intifada, they killed an Israeli military police captain in Gaza in August 1987.

A few months before the start of the First Intifada in 1987, the Islamic Jihad killed an Israeli military police captain in Gaza.

The Islamic Jihad was expelled to Lebanon in the same year, where it developed a strong relationship with Hezbollah and received arms training from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. As of today, Shaqaqi’s group has its official headquarters in Damascus, Syria, where they continue to operate.

Relationship With Hamas

There are no social services offered by the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, it does not seek political office, and it does not open diplomatic channels with Israel, unlike Hamas.

Both groups oppose Israel, which is the only thing that unites them. The Palestinian enclave has often been the scene of militant operations coordinated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Although Hamas has warned Islamic Jihad against attacking Israel, ironically, there have been times when it has encouraged it to do so. In most cases, the Islamic Jihad operates independently. As a result of the Islamic Jihad’s focus on military confrontations, Hamas has often remained on the sidelines during clashes with Israel.

Relationship With Iran

Shi’a groups in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Gulf Emirates were the Iranian Revolution’s sphere of influence in its first decade. Sunni majority countries did not respond to its fundamentalist ideas, and Islamic militant groups were not attracted to its ideas.

Iran did not pay any heed to the Iranian Revolution that inspired Shaqaqi and Awda. As a result of Ayatollah Khomenei’s steadfast commitment to Shi’ite values, Iranian leaders did not concentrate on Sunni-dominated nations.

There was, however, a change. After the Iran-Iraq War ended in the 1980s, Iran began exporting its fundamentalism to countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, and, most importantly, Palestine — coinciding with the First Intifada. Iran directly influenced the Islamic Jihad after Israel kicked it out of Lebanon.

Iran funds the Islamic Jihad’s budget, just like it reportedly funds Hamas and Hezbollah, according to the US State Department. As well as providing a safe haven to the group, the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria is also blamed by the US.

Attacks Carried Out By Islamic Jihad

The Islamic Jihad’s modus operandi includes suicide bombings targetting Israeli civilians and military personnel.

1987: Killing Of an Israeli military police commander in Gaza

1994: Car bomb attack killing nine and injuring 50 aboard a public bus

1995: Suicide bomb attack killing 18 soldiers and one civilian in ISrael’s Netanya.

1996: Suicide bomb attack at a Tel Aviv shopping mall killing 13 and injuring 75.

2003: Suicide bomb attack a a Haifa restaurant killing 22 and injuring 60.

Along with other suicide bombings, the Islamic Jihad also works with Hamas to launch rockets into Israel.

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