2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Palestinian Islamic Jihad activists take part in an anti-Israel military parade marking the 36th anniversary of the movement’s founding in Gaza City, October 4, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo 2/2
(Reuters) – Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group that is an ally of Hamas and was involved in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip, has rejected Israel’s accusations that it was behind an attack on a hospital in Gaza in which hundreds of people were killed.
Below are some facts about Islamic Jihad:
* Israelis and Palestinians have blamed each other for the bombing of Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City late on October 17. Israel said Islamic Jihad was responsible and said a failed rocket launch by the group hit the hospital. Islamic Jihad denied this and said it had no activity in or around Gaza City at the time.
* Islamic Jihad was founded in the late 1970s by Fathi Shiqaqi and Abdel-Aziz Odeh and found support among Palestinians disillusioned with Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Shiqaqi was apparently murdered by Israeli agents in Malta in 1995.
* The group has vowed to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamic state spanning the territory that was British Mandatory Palestine before 1948, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
* Islamic Jihad receives Iranian funding and know-how estimated by Israel at tens of millions of dollars per year. It has foreign headquarters in Beirut and Damascus and is stationed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, although on a smaller scale than in the Gaza Strip, which has recently grown.
* Islamic Jihad has the second largest armed network in Gaza after that of the ruling militant group Hamas. Current figures on Islamic Jihad’s strength are difficult to obtain, with estimates for 2021 ranging from about 1,000 to several thousand gunmen, according to the CIA’s World Factbook. The group also has a significant arsenal of rockets, mortars and anti-tank missiles. Islamic Jihad does not pass on such information.
* Unlike Hamas, Islamic Jihad has not taken part in Palestinian parliamentary elections and does not appear to have any ambitions to form a government in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.
* Islamic Jihad is classified as a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and European countries.
(This story has been re-archived to remove repeated words in paragraph 7)
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