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What is the Palestinian Islamic Jihad?

Members of Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement at a gathering for Islamic Jihad commander Khaled Mansour, who was killed on the first day of "Operation Breaking Dawn", in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 8, 2022. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is an Islamic, Palestinian nationalist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel. 

PIJ was founded by Fathi Shaqaqi and Abd al-Aziz Awda, who were students in Egypt and members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. They became disenchanted with the Muslim Brotherhood, which they believed was too moderate. 

Initially operating out of Egypt with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), they were exiled from Egypt after EIJ assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. 

The group was heavily influenced by the Iranian Revolution of 1979, despite being a Sunni Muslim group. Like the Iranian revolutionaries, PIJ seeks to use force to bring about an Islamic Sharia government within the borders of British Mandatory Palestine. 

Unlike other Palestinian groups such as Hamas, PIJ does not participate in any political processes. It does not negotiate, nor does it seek to be a part of the Palestinian parliament. 

After Shaqaqi and Awda were expelled from Egypt, they returned to Gaza for several years. Then, in 1987, the leaders of PIJ were exiled from Gaza to Lebanon, where they formed relationships with Hezbollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Two years later, Shaqaqi moved the groups official headquarters to Damascus, although it maintained a presence in Lebanon, as well. 

Today, PIJ receives most of its funding from Iran, who sees the group as a strategic partner in its conflict with Israel. 

Due to its much smaller size, its cell structure and lack of political organization, PIJ is a much more difficult target for Israeli security forces, and they have had limited success infiltrating the group or uncovering lines of communication between operational groups. 

Along with the Hamas terrorist organization, PIJ was involved in a wave of terror attacks aimed at disrupting the Oslo Accords signed by Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1993. 

PIJ is viewed negatively by the Palestinian Authority, as it does not recognize the legitimacy of the PA because it is not an Islamic government and because it recognizes Israel’s right to exist. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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