Many in the international community often refer to the Palestinian Fatah faction, which is headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, as a "moderate" group that believes in Israel's right to exist and the two-state solution.
What these people do not know is that Fatah, the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), consists of several groups that hold different views than those expressed by Abbas and other English-speaking Fatah officials.
Some of these Fatah groups do not believe in Israel's right to exist and continue to talk about the "armed struggle" as the only way to "liberate Palestine and restore Palestinian national rights."
One of these groups is called The Aqsa Martyrs Brigade - El Amoudi Brigade.
The Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is Fatah's armed wing, established shortly after the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000. Although the Palestinian Authority leadership maintains that the group has been dissolved and its members recruited into its security forces, scores of gunmen continue to operate freely in Palestinian villages and refugee camps in the West Bank.
Based in the Gaza Strip, the El Amoudi Brigade, which consists of dozens of Fatah gunmen, is named after Nidal El Amoudi, a top Fatah operative killed by the Israel Defense Forces on January 13, 2008, after he carried out a series of armed attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers during the second intifada.
During the last war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas ("Operation Protective Edge"), the El Amoudi Brigade claimed responsibility for firing dozens of rockets at Israeli cities and IDF soldiers.
Sources in the Gaza Strip claim that many of the group's members are former security officers, still on the payroll of the PA. Other sources claim that the group is funded by ousted Fatah official Mohamed Dahlan, who is currently based in the United Arab Emirates, and the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah.
It is worth noting that the Palestinian Authority leadership has never distanced itself from the El Amoudi Brigade's rhetoric and actions.
In addition to an official website, Fatah's El Amoudi Brigade regularly issues threats to pursue the armed struggle against, and destroy, Israel. Last week, the group posted a video with a message to the "Israeli enemy" on the 67th anniversary of the creation of Israel -- which Palestinians refer to as "Nakba Day" (Day of Catastrophe).
Entitled, "A Message to the Israeli People" and accompanied by Hebrew subtitles, the video declares that the "battle for the liberation (of Palestine) was closer than ever," and warns Israelis: "Our Nakba (catastrophe) is unforgettable; soon you will have to leave because you have no other choice."
The Fatah video shows the group's members during military training in the Gaza Strip, in preparation for the next battle against Israel. "We have prepared the best soldiers," says the song in the background.
In a separate statement on the same occasion, the Fatah group emphasizes that the "armed struggle" against Israel "is the only means to liberate Palestine." It also stresses that the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees to their former homes inside Israel cannot be compromised and is non-negotiable. "Our people reject all alternative options to the right of return," the statement read, repeatedly referring to Israel as the "Zionist enemy."
Elsewhere, the Fatah group boasts that its men have been able to manufacture a new 12-kilometer range rocket called 107 that was used against IDF tanks and soldiers during the last war in the Gaza Strip.
The El Amoudi Brigade is not the only armed Fatah militia operating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Another significant group in the Gaza Strip, which also participated in the last war against Israel, is called the Martyr Abdel Qader Hossaini Brigade. Like its sister group, El Amoudi Brigade, the Martyr Abdel Qader Hossaini militia also supports the armed struggle against the "Zionist enemy."
A third major Fatah terror group is called the Abu al-Rish Brigades, which has been responsible for many terrorist attacks against Israel and the kidnapping of foreigners in the Gaza Strip. The gang, which describes itself as the "military wing of Fatah," also refers to Israel as the "Zionist enemy" and claims to have participated alongside Hamas in the last war in the Gaza Strip.
Gunmen from Fatah's Abu al-Rish Brigades, which describes itself as the "military wing of Fatah," appear in a September 2014 propaganda video.
The international community and the media often ignore the fact that Fatah has a number of armed groups that are still openly dedicated to the "armed struggle" and terrorism as a way of "liberating Palestine." They also ignore that "moderate" Fatah leaders who speak in favor of peace and the two-state solution do not distance themselves from these groups. Several Fatah leaders, in fact, often speak in English about the need for reviving the peace process, while in Arabic they praise and endorse the Fatah gunmen.
The presence of armed Fatah gangs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is a sign of the huge challenges that any Palestinian leader would face if and when the Palestinians and Israel reach a peace agreement. Obviously, these Fatah groups will be the first to reject any peace agreement that includes the slightest concession to Israel. Some of these groups are opposed in principle to peace with Israel because they simply do not recognize Israel's right to exist.
This is something that the international community -- first and foremost the U.S. -- needs to take into consideration when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Decision-makers need to know that opposition to peace with Israel will come not only from Hamas, but also from many groups within Fatah. As the armed groups themselves indicate, their fight is to eliminate "Zionist enemy" and achieve the "right of return" for millions of descendants of refugees to their former homes inside Israel.
Meanwhile, Abbas and other Fatah leaders, who are fully aware of the actions and threats of their loyalists, are doing their utmost to stop the world from hearing what the Fatah gunmen have to say about peace and the two-state solution. The question remains: Until when will the international community continue to bury its head in the sand and pretend that Fatah is a unified, moderate and pragmatic group that seeks peace and coexistence with Israel on behalf of all Palestinians?