by Alden Oreck
Harakat al-Jihad al-Islami al-Filastini, better known as Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), was formed in 1979 by Islamic fundamentalist Fathi Shaqaqi and other radical Palestinian students in Egypt who had split from the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood in the Gaza Strip whom they deemed too moderate. The 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran influenced the group's founder, Shaqaqi, who believed the liberation of Palestine would unite the Arab and Muslim world into a single great Islamic state. Today, PIJ is committed to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel through a jihad (holy war).
The Egyptian government expelled the PIJ to the Gaza Strip after learning of their close relations with radical Egyptian students who assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Still, PIJ members remained active in Egypt, attacking a tour bus in Egypt in February 1990 that killed 11 people, including nine Israelis. PIJ agents were arrested in Egypt in September 1991 while attempting to enter the country to conduct terrorism.
The PIJ began its terrorist campaign against Israel in the 1980s. In 1987, prior to the intifada, it carried out several terrorist attacks in the Gaza Strip. In August 1988, the faction`s leaders, Shaqaqi and `Abd al-`Aziz `Odah, were expelled to Lebanon, where Shaqaqi reorganized the faction, maintaining close contacts with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards unit stationed in Lebanon and with Hizballah. Although several other factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad were formed in the 1980s, the main faction remains the group founded by Shaqaqi. After the 1993 Olso Peace Accords between Israeli and the Palestinians, Shaqaqi expanded the political connections of the organization to become a member of the new Syrian influenced Rejection Front.
PIJ and Hamas (The Islamic Resistance Movement), a separate Palestinian terrorist organization, were regarded as rivals in the Gaza Strip until after the foundation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994 when Hamas adopted the strategy suicide terrorist bombings. Since then, there has been some operational cooperation between the two organizations in carrying out attacks like the one in Beit-Lid, in February 1995, where two suicide bombers killed eight Israelis and wounded 50.
When PIJ leader Shaqaqi was killed in October 1995 in Malta, allegedly by Israeli agents, the PIJ position among Palestinian terrorist organizations dipped because his successor, Ramadan Abdallah Muhammad Shalah, who lived in the United States for several years, lacked Shaqaqi's charisma and intellectual and organizational skills. That did not stop PIJ's terror campaign, however, which included the March 1996 suicide bombing of the Dizengoff Center in downtown Tel Aviv, which killed 20 civilians and wounded more than 75, including two Americans.
The group is currently based in Damascus and its financial backing is believed to come from there and Iran. PIJ also has offices in Beirut, Tehran and Khartoum. It has some influence in the Gaza Strip, mainly in the Islamic University, but not in a way that can endanger the dominant position of Hamas as the leading Islamic Palestinian organization. Unlike Hamas, PIJ has no social or political role in the PA.
Aside from Israel, PIJ also considers the United States an enemy because of its support for Israel. The PIJ also opposes moderate Arab governments that it believes have been tainted by Western secularism and has carried out attacks in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.
Since September 2000, PIJ has been responsible for scores of terrorist attacks, including 15 suicide and car bombings, which have claimed the lives of more than 25 Israelis and wounded almost 400. On December 22, 2001, despite a declaration by Hamas to halt suicide bombings inside Israel, in response to a crackdown on militants by Yassir Arafat, PIJ vowed to continue its terror campaign. PIJ's representative in Lebanon, Abu Imad Al Rifai, told Reuters, "Our position is to continue. We have no other choice. We are not willing to compromise."
Pictured above is the emblem of Islamic Jihad. In the center, on a background of the Dome of the Rock, the map of greater Palestine is represented flanked by assault rifles. Above it and between the rifles appears the inscription Allah huAkbar [“Allah is Great,” the famous Islamic battle cry and usually the last words of a suicide bomber]. It is an excellent example of the radical Islamic religious message promulgated by the organization, whose goals are the destruction of the State of Israel (which they refer to as “the full liberation of the Palestinian lands”) by means of an armed and uncompromising jihad (holy war) and the establishment of a religious Islamic Palestinian state in its place.
Jewish Virtual Library
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -