MENA Monitor Exclusive: Is the Islamic Jihad an even more dangerous successor of Hamas in Palestine?

Again, and after more than 14 years since the last legislative elections in Palestine, all eyes are focusing on the Palestine, in conjunction with the preparations for the elections, which are scheduled to take place in the upcoming months.

The attention for the Palestinian elections and their unique circumstances is in fact not related to the focus the Arab world normally has for the Palestinian cause. The attention this time is due to the amount of hope for Palestinian voters concerning the upcoming elections. It seems that the majority of them is demanding an end to the internal Palestinian conflict between Hamas and Fatah, started after the 2006 elections and continued until the present day, and even evolved after Hamas took over power in Gaza Strip, expelled official Palestinian National Authority’s employees. The situation between both groups even got worse after violent confrontations, cumulated in an severe siege by Israel on Gaza, using violent clashes between Hamas and Fatah as a unique opportunity to put pressure on Hamas especially with regard to Hamas’ close coalition with Iran.

The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine 

The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine could become the big winner of the upcoming election. The organization, known in the West as simply Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), is a Palestinian Islamist terrorist organization formed in 1981 whose objective is the destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of a sovereign, Islamic Palestinian state. PIJ has been labelled a terrorist organisation by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. Iran is a major financial supporter of the PIJ.

Following the Israeli and Egyptian squeeze on Hamas in early 2014, PIJ has seen its power steadily increase with the backing of funds from Iran. Its financial backing is believed to also come from Syria. The Islamic Jihad Movement has sent “its gratitude to the brothers in Hezbollah, the Islamic resistance in South Lebanon. Particularly Hassan Nasrallah, for their stance and support, be it financial, military or moral support”.

Expectations by many Palestinians of ending the conflict between Hamas and Fatah and the support for another terror organization does not have anything to do with the interior policy of Hamas or its recent ping-pong alliances with Iran and Turkey at the same time.

Their hope is on the rise, because there is a possibility that the Islamic Jihad Movement could succeed Hamas’ ruling in Gaza after the elections, especially together with an already announced possible coalition with Fatah.

Recently, meetings were held between the Islamic Jihad and Egyptian officials. Well-informed sources state that during those consultations both sides expressed their optimism that the Islamic Jihad could repair the chaos under Hamas’ 14 years of ruling, stressing that the Islamic Jihad delegation during the talks was focusing on the basic needs and the living condition of the Palestinian population.

As a point of great importance, the sources pointed out that the Jihad Movement during its meetings focusing on internal Palestinian issues and Arab-Palestinian relations, adding: „At the moment, It is very important that Gaza renormalizes its relations with the Arab neighboring countries

14 years and yet the lesson is not learned

Due to the terror regime of Hamas, its influence in Gaza and the ongoing violent confrontation with Israel, the last 14 years were critical for the Palestinian population. Any peace negotiations with the Israeli government were destroyed by the attacks of Hamas, which is under the de facto control of regimes like the one in Tehran. The recent increasing influence of Erdogan’s Turkey is just the tipping point.

The destruction of large parts of the Palestinian infrastructure, caused by numerous military confrontations between Hamas and the Israeli army are one of the main reasons the economy is not able to create jobs, wealth and social prosperity.

Analysts already predicted that the economic and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip will continue to deteriorate, especially as Hamas ignores the basic social needs of its citizens and focuses only on financing and arming its military arm through Iran and Turkey. Only some additional money coming from Qatar, is spent for social aid.

A possible success of the Jihad Movement together with its rising support by the Palestinian population and the defeat of Hamas would not bring stability, but even more violence to this haunted region: The so-called political Islam would have the same influence on Palestinian policy as it had before; an economic rise would be impossible; any new negotiations with Israel would be effortless before they even started; it would in fact strengthen the support of Israeli hardliners and destroy any positive perspective in the relations between Palestine and Israel.


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