August 7, 2022 | Flash Brief

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is an Iran-Supported Terror Organization

August 7, 2022 | Flash Brief

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is an Iran-Supported Terror Organization

Latest developments

On Friday, the IDF launched Operation Breaking Dawn to preempt attacks by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization since 1997. Since the fighting began, Palestinian militants have launched some 600 rockets at Israeli targets, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, while hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken refuge in bomb shelters.

PIJ Secretary General Ziad al Nakhaleh is currently in Iran, where he has met with General Hossein Salami, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

A ceasefire between PIJ and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) may be imminent.

PIJ profile

Founded in 1981, PIJ is the second-largest militant group in Gaza after Hamas. Like Hamas, PIJ seeks Israel’s destruction. But unlike Hamas, PIJ does not participate in the Palestinian political process or provide social services to Palestinians in Gaza. 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.

Although PIJ is Sunni, it took inspiration from the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and views it as a model for the creation of a Palestinian state. PIJ’s founder, Fathi Shikaki, published a book expressing support for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, the founding father and first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Israel killed Shikaki in 1995.

Iranian support for PIJ

Since the early 1990s, Iran has provided PIJ with income and military support, including small arms, rockets (such as the Fajr 5 and Fajr 3), and explosive-laden unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In 2019, Nakhaleh said, “The resistance is capable of crushing the Zionist cities with over 1,000 rockets a day for months.”

According to the State Department’s 2020 Country Reports on Terrorism, “PIJ receives financial assistance and training primarily from Iran. PIJ has partnered with Iran- and Syria-sponsored Hizballah to carry out joint operations.”

IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani’s support for PIJ

In 2021, Nakhaleh said that Soleimani “traveled to various countries, made plans, and set up guidelines to deliver these weapons [to the Gaza Strip]. And indeed, these weapons were delivered [to the Gaza Strip]. I can say that the missiles that [Soleimani] delivered to the Gaza Strip were the ones used to attack Tel Aviv. I can say that Hajj Qassem played a pivotal role in the fact that the Palestinians ventured to attack the capital of the Zionist entity. From that point in time, weapons were developed in Palestine, and the Palestinians began to manufacture all the missiles themselves as a result of the experience they gained thanks to the decisions of Hajj Qassem. This is a great and important issue, and without a doubt played a role in strengthening the Palestinian resistance.”

Expert analysis from FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz

“Palestinian Islamic Jihad is an arm of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Khamenei and the IRGC are fanatically devoted to weaponizing Palestinian terror groups to destroy Israel while brutalizing Iranians at home.”


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Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Palestinian Politics