August 5, 2022 | Flash Brief

Israel Targets Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Commander in Gaza

August 5, 2022 | Flash Brief

Israel Targets Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Commander in Gaza

Latest Developments

An Israeli strike has killed Taysir al-Jabari, the Gaza commander of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which the U.S. Department of State designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 1997. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Jabari “was responsible for multiple terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.”

PIJ had threatened to attack Israeli targets after the arrest earlier this week of senior PIJ figure Bassam al-Saadi. Israel’s internal security service, Shabak, said Saadi was the PIJ leader in the West Bank and was behind the “building of a significant military force.” Shabak added that Saadi “was a significant factor in the radicalization of the organization’s operatives in the field.”

PIJ Profile

Founded in 1981, PIJ is the second-largest militant group in Gaza after Hamas. In the 1990s and again during the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005, PIJ targeted Israeli civilians with suicide bombings, including the Netanya mall bombing in December 2005, which killed five Israelis and wounded fifty.

Dependent on Iran

PIJ is the Palestinian militant group closest to Iran, on which it depends for financial and military support. Thanks to Iran, PIJ in Gaza has acquired military-grade weapons that range from small arms to man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), rockets, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), and explosive-laden unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). PIJ fighters have also trained inside Iran.


PIJ has a local leadership structure in Gaza, although its senior leaders reside in Syria, Lebanon, and other countries in the region. Unlike Hamas, PIJ does not compete in elections, employ civilian front organizations, or govern any part of Gaza. When weighing the risks of attacking Israel, it therefore has less need to consider the impact of a potential military response. Ziyad al-Nakhlaheh, Khaled al-Batsh, Hader Adnan, and Muhammed al-Hindi are among PIJ’s most visible leaders and spokesmen.

Independent from Hamas

Despite PIJ’s cooperation with Hamas, which also has close ties to Iran, PIJ has launched attacks on Israel at times when Hamas would have preferred not to escalate. These attacks seek to demonstrate that PIJ is the most militant organization in Gaza and can act independently.

History of Clashes with the IDF

In November 2019, an IDF strike killed Jabari’s predecessor, Bahaa Abu al-Atta, resulting in several days of clashes between PIJ and the IDF. In February 2020, the IDF conducted strikes against PIJ militant infrastructure in both the Gaza Strip and Syria.

There has been a sharp increase in PIJ casualties over the last year and half, with numerous militants killed during engagements with Israeli personnel during counter-terrorism operations. Coupled with the establishment of PIJ fighting units, or “katibat,” in several West Bank cities, the increase in violence suggests an organized PIJ effort to expand its military capabilities in the West Bank.

Expert Analysis from FDD’s Joe Truzman

“Israel likely felt an attack by Palestinian Islamic Jihad was imminent and reacted first. The history of conflict with the PIJ suggests a high likelihood of an armed response in the coming days by PIJ and the other militant groups that belong to Palestinian Joint Operations Room, including Hamas.”



Israel Jihadism Palestinian Politics