Palestinian Islamic Jihad (in Arabic Harakat al-Jihad al-Islami al-Filastin), known by Israelis simply as Islamic Jihad, was formed in 1979 by Islamic fundamentalist Fathi Shkaki and other radical Palestinian students who split from the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood in the Gaza Strip, whom they considered too moderate.
Following the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981, Egypt expelled Islamic Jihad, which was thought to have collaborated with the Muslim Brotherhood in the killing, from its territory to the Gaza Strip. The group, which holds the stated goal of wanting to destroy the State of Israel and create an Islamic state in Palestine in its place, has been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel.
Islamic Jihad began focusing its terrorist activities against Israel in the 1980s. Before the First Intifada broke out in 1987, the group carried out several terrorist attacks against Israelis in the Gaza Strip. In August 1988, its leaders, Shkaki and Abd al-Aziz Odah, were expelled to Lebanon.
In Lebanon, Shkaki formed close contacts with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which at the time was funding and arming Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Shi'ite militant group. Shkaki set about reorganizing Islamic Jihad, as well as learning new terror tactics from Hezbollah.
In 1989, Islamic Jihad moved its headquarters to Damascus, Syria, where its headquarters has remained. It is believed that the group is funded by the regimes in Syria and Iran. Its main theater of operations is the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but the group has also operated in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.
In the Palestinian territories, Islamic Jihad formed an alliance with Hamas after the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords between Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction and Israel. Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which is much larger in numbers than Islamic Jihad, share one main ideological difference: Islamic Jihad believe that Islamic law should first be forced upon Arab and Muslim states, and then the rest of the world, including Israel. Hamas, which is also an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, has reversed those priorities, focusing first on eradicating Israel and creating a Palestinian caliphate in Palestine, and then launching violent jihad against moderate Arab and Muslim regimes. However, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has signed a ceasefire agreement with Israel while Islamic Jihad has stated it would not abide by the agreement, which includes the halt of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad view the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, to be tainted by Western secularism, and consider it to be an illegitimate leader of the Palestinian people.
The two groups have joined forces on numerous occasions, one of the most notable being the bloody suicide bombing at the Beit Lid Junction in Israel in 1995, in which eight Israelis were killed and more than 50 others wounded. Israel has responded to Islamic Jihad terrorist activities mostly through a policy of targeted killings of its operators and leaders. In 1995, Shkaki was shot and killed in Malta by an unidentified passenger on a motorcycle. It is widely believed that Israel's Mossad espionage agency was behind his murder.
Since Shkaki's death, fellow founder Sheikh Abdullah Ramadan Shallah has led Islamic Jihad.
Renewed rocket fire from Gaza depends less on the IDF, and more on other fronts – the PA delaying the parliamentary election and continued tensions in Jerusalem
Islamic Jihad vows retaliation while rights group says fishermen were killed by gunfire from one of the enclave’s armed factions
The drill, which Israeli media says was funded by Iran, aims to test Gaza factions' preparedness for any future confrontation with Israel
Security and civil coordination was suspended in May over Israel's plans to annex parts of the West Bank
The military is preparing for missile fire beyond the south as well, as Islamic Jihad militants may fire on Israel to commemorate targeted killing of Baha Abu al-Ata
Officials suspect Islamic Jihad wants to strike on anniversary of leader’s targeted killing, while Hamas is frustrated by the actions of Qatar and Israel
No casualties or damage reported
Maher Akhras, who denies claims of his Islamic Jihad membership, was offered to be freed in November at the end of his administrative detention in return for ending his strike
UN ambassador involved in talks with Israel to free Maher Akhras, who has been on hunger strike for 76 days. Israel claimed he admitted to being a member of the group, but transcripts show no mention of Islamic Jihad
State prosecutors representing defense agencies said administrative detainee had been filmed saying in his hospital bed that he was proud of belonging to the Palestinian armed group, but evidence says otherwise
His tenure at the top of the Gaza-based national-religious militant group was marked by deadly attacks on Israeli civilians and internal divisions
Court says countries provided 'material support' to groups that committed attacks that hurt and killed Americans ■ Amount of damages not yet determined
The dedicated terrorist ‘Muhand’ killed Colonel Dror Weinberg on the ‘worshipers’ route’ in Kiryat Arba but wouldn’t celebrate his triumph for long
The Palestinian faction in Gaza says Netanyahu's willingness to hold talks is 'propaganda' and 'the last item on his agenda'
Israel has so far not accepted responsibility for the November strike, although it has been attributed to it by foreign media outlets
Islamic Jihad took a risk igniting the Gaza front, and it seemed to have paid off
Israel could untie this Gordian knot by lifting the Gaza blockade, perceived by Jerusalem as a red line that cannot be crossed, even though its efficiency in reducing violence is doubtful
The last thing embattled Netanyahu needs is a violent conflict in Gaza. Paradoxically, hitting the Islamic Jihad's No. 2 in Syria is less sensitive than bombing the Strip
Incident comes a day after Israel decided to increase the cap for permits given to workers and merchants in Gaza to 7,000, the highest level since Hamas took over the enclave in 2007
'The righteous are stronger than the unrighteous,' Meshal says, blasting Arab states that have chosen to side with the U.S.
Iran is doubling down on its explosive investment in Gaza: Islamic Jihad. An impoverished Hamas faces a militant, rejectionist and increasingly untamable rival, flush with cash and determined to trigger war with Israel
Only 10 percent of Gaza border residents said the campaign made them feel safer, while 63 percent said nothing has changed
Source linked to PA denies group's claim that intel operatives in Gaza trailed Baha Abu al-Ata, collecting information on his whereabouts up until he was killed
The compound where the Sawarka family lived was erroneously marked as 'military.' An accurate definition would have meant the Israeli strike wouldn’t have been carried out at all
The groundwork for a deal with Hamas is laid, but Israeli security agencies disagree over extent of relief measures
This is the second incident in two weeks since a ceasefire came into force between Israel, Palestinian Islamic Jihad ■ No injuries reported
Nine family members killed by mistake in an Israeli strike are not mentioned in the letter Kochavi sent to all army units
Politicians' embrace of the Israeli army chief blurs lines, raising uncomfortable questions