The Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second largest and hugely influential group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, does not believe that the conflict with Israel is over Jerusalem, settlements, borders, checkpoints or Palestinian prisoners. For PIJ, the only way for solving the conflict is by eliminating Israel and killing as many Jews as possible. PIJ sees Israel as one big settlement and a foreign implant that needs to be dismantled as soon as possible. Pictured: Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists parade with Bader 3 rockets in Gaza City, on May 29, 2021. (Photo by Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images)
The Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second largest and hugely influential group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, does not believe that the conflict with Israel is over Jerusalem, settlements, borders, checkpoints or Palestinian prisoners.
Like Hamas, PIJ's "logical intellectual vision considers all of Palestine still occupied from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea." For PIJ, the only way for solving the conflict is by eliminating Israel and killing as many Jews as possible. PIJ sees Israel as one big settlement and a foreign implant that needs to be dismantled as soon as possible.
PIJ and Hamas have direct control over two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which has shared borders with Israel and Egypt.
Hamas says in its charter (Article 11) that it "believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic waqf [Trust] upon all Muslim generations till the day of Resurrection."
Article 15 of the charter states:
"In the struggle against the Jewish occupation of Palestine, the banner of jihad must be raised. That requires that Islamic education be passed to the masses locally, in the Arab [world] and in the Islamic [world], and that the spirit of jihad – fighting and joining the ranks – must be broadcast among the Umma (Muslim community)."
The PIJ position and strategy, which is similar to that of Hamas, was recently outlined in an article written by Walid al-Qattati, a Palestinian writer and senior official of the group, and titled "The Philosophy of Resistance in the Thought of Islamic Jihad."
Why is the article worth reading?
First, it aims to remind the Palestinians, and all Arabs and Muslims, that PIJ remains committed to the annihilation of Israel through jihad (holy war). True, the article also expresses support for "popular resistance" against Israel, but this is interpreted by Palestinians as a green light to carry out stabbings, car-rammings, and rock and Molotov cocktail attacks against Jews. The article basically argues that it is fine to stab or shoot a Jew if one cannot launch bigger "operations" such as suicide bombings or rocket attacks.
Second, the article comes at a time when the Egyptians and other parties continue to search for ways to achieve a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, PIJ and other Gaza-based armed groups.
Third, Qattati's article shows that PIJ and its masters in Tehran consider not only Israel as the "enemy," but the US too. This is the same Iran whose representatives are currently negotiating with the US and other world powers about reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. Just this week, US President Joe Biden said that it is "not time to give up" that "there is some progress being made" in the talks with Iran's mullahs.
The Biden administration is negotiating with Iran while Tehran's Palestinian proxy is calling is on Arabs and Muslims to join forces to fight against the "Zionist entity" and American "colonialism."
As Qattati, a PIJ official , put it:
"The resistance is a Palestinian, Arab and Islamic front. Palestinian Islamic Jihad believes in the necessity of establishing alliances with any party that wants to fight the enemy, and the movement (PIJ) has no objection to cooperating and coordinating with all the anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist forces seeking to liberate Palestine. Every Palestinian, whether Muslim or Christian, will participate in the defense of the homeland and the sanctities. As for the Arabs and Muslims, the movement (PIJ) believes that the resistance that will lead to the liberation of Palestine is an Arab and Islamic effort that includes all the free people. The project to liberate Palestine will not succeed without the formation of an Arab- Islamic resistance front against the Zionist entity and American colonialism."
This is a straightforward appeal to Arabs and Muslims to wage war on Israel and the US so that Iran and its proxies will be able to proceed with their plans to tighten their grip on Arab countries where they are spreading terrorism and bloodshed. These include Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq.
Established in the Gaza Strip in 1981, PIJ has been labelled a terrorist organization by the US, European Union, Britain, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. The group has since carried out dozens of terror attacks on Israelis, including suicide bombings and launching rockets at Israel. PIJ's armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, continues to be extremely active in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The PIJ's most recent attack took place in December 2021 in the West Bank, when members of the group murdered a 25-year-old yeshiva student, Yehuda Dimentman.
The Palestinian terror groups see the murder of Dimentman as part of the "jihad and resistance against the Zionist enemy usurping Palestine by all methods and means."
PIJ, according to Qattati, believes that "heavenly laws and international norms and conventions" allow the Palestinians to use weapons to murder Jews and "expel" them from "occupied Palestine."
PIJ's statement shows that its supporters understand resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict by the United Nations and anti-Israel organizations around the world as a license to continue the jihad against Israel and all Jews.
Qattati goes on to explain that as far as his group is concerned, "resistance is an ideology before it is an action. Resistance was found in the mind and thought before the knife and the gun, and in the heart and soul before the bomb and the missile."
Qattati warns Arabs and Muslims against "abandoning jihad before the liberation of Palestine," and states that "making peace with the [Israeli] enemy is not permissible according to the Islamic sharia law."
PIJ, he adds, defines itself as "an Islamic national liberation movement and an integral part and component of the contemporary Palestinian national movement" whose main goal is to "liberate all of Palestine through the strategy of jihad and resistance."
In a warning directed towards the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, and Arab countries that have signed peace agreements with Israel, Qattati says:
"it is not permissible to deviate from the approach of resistance to the approach of bargaining over land and rights, and it is not permissible to create alternative priorities for liberation or finding ways to coexist [with Israel]."
He maintains that PIJ and other Palestinian terror groups have the right to possess, manufacture and develop weapons that would be used against the enemies of the Arabs and Muslims: Israel and "American colonialism."
"The resistance means keeping the flame of jihad burning in Palestine," the PIJ official writes.
"The role of the mujahideen (holy warriors) and the resistance fighters in Palestine is to revive the duty of jihad and ignite the flame of resistance against the Zionist entity until the conditions for complete victory over it are completed."
PIJ is undoubtedly hoping that the talks in Vienna will allow Iran to proceed with its plans to deceive the world into thinking that it will end its support for terrorist groups throughout the Middle East or abandon its plan to obtain nuclear weapons.
The PIJ, Hamas and other terror groups are evidently hoping that these weapons will be used one day by Arabs and Muslims to destroy Israel and the US. PIJ and Hamas are also undoubtedly hoping that Iran will increase its supply of arms and money to the Palestinians once it strikes a deal with the Biden administration and the other world powers.
The Biden administration needs to understand that appeasing Iran means empowering the mullah's proxies, not only in the Gaza Strip, but also in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.
It is also most critical that the Biden administration immediately place Iran's other proxy organization, the Houthis, who just bombed Abu Dhabi, back on the US List of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Since the US Department of State removed them from the list in February, they have returned the favor by becoming more aggressive than ever and are successfully destabilizing the region.
When these groups are enriched and emboldened, that just means even more bad news for the US and the region.
The Biden administration might do well to remember that its arrangements with the mullahs in Iran will spill over into bloodletting by Iran's proxies throughout the Middle East – who will be only too happy to credit the Biden administration for their toxic, destructive success.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.