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Who is Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)?


In Jerusalem, the Israeli government announced the start of a military operation in the Gaza Strip Friday with several strikes on high-profile targets of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group. 

According to reports, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) stated that several sites were hit by fighter jets and armed drones in Operation Breaking Dawn, killing one of the PIJ's senior commanders, Tayseer Jabari. In response to Israel's successful operation, media outlets, journalists, and political activists condemned Israel's actions, providing viewers with what many are calling inaccurate and biased information regarding the PIJ and its role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

The PIJ is a radical Islamic Jihadist Movement that was formed in the early 1980s, with significant help by the Islamic Republic of Iran under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The group's formation came at the same time as the Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas, sharing a hostility to the state of Israel and an ideological goal of creating an Islamic Palestinian state. As the Islamic Republic of Iran continued to become the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, PIJ leaders have grown their relationship with Iran’s regime and the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). 

From the 1980s to today, PIJ and Hamas have obtained economic and military support from the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Syrian regime under President Bashar al Assad, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Over the years, PIJ and Hamas have grown their strength and influence in Gaza and the West Bank, going against the Palestinian Authority (PA) under leader Mahmoud Abbas and targeting PA officials. 

Both PIJ leadership and Hamas are known to coordinate terrorist operations against Israeli soldiers and civilians, training young fighters in Southern Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. Under the current Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Hezbollah General Secretary Hasan Nasrallah, the PIJ has become an extension of Iran’s regime and Hezbollah through its Al-Quds Brigade. The Brigade has a history of recruiting and brainwashing young Palestinian children into hating Jews, training them to become suicide bombers, assassins, and soldiers against the IDF and Israeli citizens. 

Both Hamas and PIJ do have differences in their conduct of terrorism toward Israel. While Hamas relies on long-ranged rocket attacks, PIJ's arsenal includes small arms, mortars rockets, anti-tank missiles, and suicide bombers against Israeli citizens and military targets. PIJ, unlike its counterpart Hamas, does not engage in elections and has no ambition to form a government in Gaza or the West Bank and does not have the infrastructure or responsibilities as Hamas does, which currently rules the Gaza Strip and oversees 2.3 million Palestinians. 

According to reports, the air strikes Friday against PIJ and Tayseer were in response to the group's current and past attacks against Israeli citizens and military targets. Al-Jabari was a member of the group for 50 years, overseeing its rocket arsenal and coordinating with Hamas over joint terrorist operations. IDF officials stated that they had collected intelligence about Jabari's movements several weeks ago and began planning an attack that would end his leadership. 

When PIJ launched several rockets from Gaza in response to Israel's strike, reports revealed that a missile misfired and fell short, killing and wounding Palestinian civilians, including four young children. 

In Damascus, Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah vowed to avenge Jabari's killing, stating that his group would head into battle and that such actions would favor the Palestinian people immensely. 

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