Hatred for Israel among a large percentage of Palestinians in Gaza, who continue to support Islamic Jihad, seems to be stronger than any wish to better their situation by revolting against their failed leadership.
By Khaled Abu Toameh, The Gatestone Institute
As Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations pursue their efforts to spare the two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip another war with Israel, the Islamic Jihad organization is promising its people more suffering, violence and bloodshed. The terrorist organization is also promising to continue the fight until it achieves its goal of annihilating Israel.
The Iranian-funded Islamic Jihad’s latest pledges came as the organization, the second largest group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, celebrated this week the 32nd anniversary of its founding.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians participated in a major Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza City under the banner “Our Jihad [holy war] – The Promise Will Soon Be Fulfilled.” The promise, of course, refers to Islamic Jihad’s pledge to “liberate Palestine, from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River – a well-known euphemism for the destruction of Israel.
Particularly disturbing is that a large number of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, an enclave often described as suffering from a high percentage of poverty and unemployment, continue to support Islamic Jihad, one of the organizations there that has done nothing to improve the living conditions of its people. Their hatred for Israel seems to be stronger than any wish to better their situation by revolting against failed Palestinian leaders and groups.
Islamic Jihad has, since its establishment, brought on Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip nothing but misery, destruction and death.
During the Second Intifada, which erupted in September 2000, Islamic Jihad and its military wing, Al-Quds Brigades, took credit for killing dozens of Israelis in more than 60 terror attacks. Since 2008, Islamic Jihad has fired thousands of rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip into Israel, killing and wounding several Israelis. According to Iran’s state-run Press TV, Islamic Jihad terrorists fired 3,000 rockets at Israel during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.
After the war ended, the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera TV network broadcast a video of Islamic Jihad’s tunnel systems. In the video, an Islamic Jihad member declares that the organization is preparing for its next war with Israel and that the tunnels will be used to launch terror attacks and mortars on Israel.
In various statements marking its anniversary, Islamic Jihad could find nothing good to say about its “achievements” for the Palestinians. The organization did not use the millions of dollars it received from its sponsors in Iran to build a school or hospital in the Gaza Strip. It also did not use any of the funds to create job opportunities for the tens of thousands of unemployed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Instead, the money went into building tunnels, and smuggling and manufacturing thousands of rockets and mortars to attack Israel.
Radical Islamist Indoctrination and Training
The only education Islamic Jihad has been offering is one in which children and teenagers receive radical Islamist indoctrination and semi-military training. A report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center found that more than 100,000 Palestinian children and adolescents attend “summer camps” run by Islamic Jihad and Hamas each year:
“Their objective is to foster a cadre of future of Hamas [and Islamic Jihad] supporters and operatives for its military-terrorist wing and its organizational and administrative institutions. The campers learn the themes of ‘the liberation of Palestine,’ jihad and ‘resistance’ [i.e., terrorism], the destruction of the State of Israel, the so-called ‘right of return’ and other facets of the movement’s anti-Israeli Islamist ideology.”
In a statement last week, Islamic Jihad’s military wing (Al-Quds Brigades) boasted that one of its major achievements in the past 32 years has been “instilling the spirit of jihad and sacrifice” in the hearts and minds of Palestinians. “The organization has always proved that our right to liberate our land can be achieved only through resistance, fighting and jihad against the criminal enemy,” the statement added.
“The Zionist enemy knows that we are a thorn in its throat. We will remain so until the liberation of our land, from the river to the sea. We will continue to build our military capabilities.”
In other words, Islamic Jihad’s promise is one of unending toxicity: to go on poisoning the hearts and minds of generation after generation of Palestinians – as well as to continue investing millions of dollars in building tunnels and amassing weapons to ensure that the fight against Israel continues forever.
For Islamic Jihad leaders, easing the suffering of their people or ending the economic and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip pale in comparison to the real goal of pursuing the fight against Israel – even if that means sacrificing the lives of all Palestinians.
“Let us fight for our freedom,” Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah said during the organization’s rally on October 5.
“Be assured that victory belongs to those who pay the price for freedom and are always prepared to do so. Resistance and jihad are the only way to extract our right to Palestine. We stick to our right to all Palestine, no matter how long it takes.”
Hamas ‘Proud’ of Ties with Islamic Jihad
Hamas also joined the celebration by congratulating Islamic Jihad on its anniversary and repeating the same threats to continue the fight and jihad against Israel. Salah Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official who attended the rally, heaped praise on his friends in Islamic Jihad for their continued commitment to waging terror attacks against Israel.
“We are proud of our relations with Islamic Jihad and its military wing,” Bardaweel said.
“We are proud of all the resistance groups [in the Gaza Strip.] The policy of resistance and jihad is the genuine policy to liberate all Palestine, and the Palestinian people will not abandon this path. We will not accept any agreement that contradicts the project of jihad and liberation. Under no circumstances will we give up one inch of the land of Palestine.”
Despite the ongoing threats by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Israel seems to have agreed to a temporary ceasefire with the Gaza-based terrorist groups. Last month, Israel even allowed the delivery of equipment into the Gaza Strip for constructing a new American-funded field hospital.
Last week, Israel was reported to have allowed thousands of Palestinians to enter from the Gaza Strip to conduct business and work at jobs, apparently as part of the ceasefire understandings reached under the auspices of Egypt, Qatar and the UN.
Earlier, Israel had allowed Qatar to deliver millions of dollars in cash to allow Hamas to pay salaries to its employees. In addition, Israel has allowed the UN to step up aid efforts in the Gaza Strip.
Israel Helps the Palestinian People
Evidently, Israel is doing more to help the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip than the leaders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas. As the recent statements by these leaders show, the two terrorist groups have nothing to offer their people. The only future they portray is one that consists of terrorism and jihad. The only future they promise is one where more young Palestinians will be recruited as suicide bombers and jihadis in a holy war whose chief goal is to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Iranian-backed Islamist state.
With leaders like these, the Palestinians do not need enemies. Hamas and Islamic Jihad simply continue their lies to the Egyptians, the Qataris and the rest of the world with their talk about a ceasefire with Israel.
For them, a ceasefire means further amassing weapons and preparing their people for war without worrying about Israeli military action. When will the international community pull its head out of the sand in which it has so long been buried and understand that with organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad running the show, the Gaza Strip will remain the humanitarian disaster that is so bitterly blamed on Israel?