Know Your Enemies – Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is an organization responsible for three decades of terror attacks. While groups like Hamas get most of the press, PIJ is a smaller, more radical faction committed to the destruction of Israel. They are notorious for pioneering suicide attacks and indoctrinating Palestinian youth through schools and summer camps.

Founding and Ideology

The story of PIJ begins with Dr. Fathi Ibrahim Abdulaziz Shikaki, a brilliant pediatrician and poet. Born in a Gaza refugee camp, Shikaki studied medicine in Egypt, where he was influenced by radical Islamist ideologies. He admired figures like the Iranian Supreme Leader and Sayyid Qutb, whose execution for plotting an Islamic uprising deeply impacted him. Shikaki aimed to replace secular Arab governments with Islamic regimes and believed armed resistance was the only way to liberate Palestine.

Formation and Early Actions

Shikaki founded PIJ in the early 1980s, blending nationalism with Islamism. The group quickly attracted the attention of Israeli authorities for its violent activities. Shikaki was arrested and deported to Lebanon, where he reorganized PIJ and established connections with powerful terrorist groups. PIJ received financial and military support from Iran, enabling them to escalate their attacks, including the first Palestinian suicide attack and numerous bombings.

PIJ vs. Hamas

PIJ is distinct from Hamas in its approach and structure. While Hamas is a broad, community-based movement, PIJ operates as a secretive, cell-based organization focused solely on violence. PIJ rejects any form of normalization with Israel, unlike Hamas, which has occasionally engaged in political processes.

Indoctrination and Popularity

PIJ’s popularity stems from its aggressive indoctrination methods. They run schools and summer camps teaching children to hate Israel and embrace violence. This long-term indoctrination has produced generations of Palestinians committed to PIJ’s extremist ideology.

Recent Activities

PIJ was heavily involved in the October 7th attacks, during which fighters from both Hamas and PIJ crossed into Israel. The current PIJ leader claimed the group was holding over 30 hostages, and their actions were praised by the Iranian president.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, founded by the radical ideas of Dr. Shikaki, has evolved into an ultraviolent terrorist group. Despite Hamas receiving more media attention, PIJ remains an extremely dangerous organization dedicated to the complete destruction of Israel. Recognizing and understanding the threat posed by PIJ is crucial to addressing the broader conflict in the region.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a militant organization founded in 1981 with the primary aim of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state and eliminating the state of Israel. PIJ is considered a terrorist organization by several countries, including the United States, the European Union, and Israel. The group operates mainly in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and has been responsible for numerous attacks against Israeli targets.


The ideology of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is rooted in radical Islamic fundamentalism and Palestinian nationalism. PIJ seeks to establish an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine, rejecting any form of compromise with Israel. The group advocates for armed struggle (jihad) as the primary means to achieve its goals, inspired by the Iranian Revolution and supported by various Islamist principles. PIJ does not participate in the political process within the Palestinian territories, focusing instead on military activities.

Official Flag

Palestinian Islamic Jihad this terror Organization
Palestinian Islamic Jihad this terror Organization

Order of Battle

The order of battle for the PIJ includes a hierarchical structure led by a Secretary-General, who oversees various military and political wings. The group’s military wing, known as the Al-Quds Brigades, conducts operations ranging from rocket attacks and suicide bombings to guerrilla warfare. The PIJ has a decentralized command structure, allowing for flexibility and resilience against counterterrorism efforts. Key figures within the organization often operate covertly to avoid detection and capture by Israeli security forces.


The budget of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is primarily sourced from foreign donations, with significant funding reportedly coming from Iran. PIJ also receives financial support from other sympathetic states and organizations. The funds are used to procure weapons, fund operations, and support the families of militants. Financial support is crucial for maintaining the group’s activities and sustaining its operational capabilities.


The arsenal of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad includes a range of weapons and explosives. The group is known for its use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mortars, and rockets. PIJ has developed and deployed various types of rockets, such as the Qassam and Katyusha, targeting Israeli civilian areas. The organization also possesses small arms, including rifles, machine guns, and pistols, used in ground operations and ambushes. Over the years, PIJ has improved its weaponry through smuggling and local manufacturing, posing a significant threat to Israeli security.

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