The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror organization is arming groups belonging to the ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank, PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhaleh revealed on Saturday.
“Palestinian Islamic Jihad has worked and is working to form combat battalions in all Palestinian cities in the West Bank, and the size and ability of these battalions vary from one place to another, according to our ability to arm them,” Nakhaleh said in an interview with the Iranian newspaper Al-Wefaq.
Palestinian Authority officials recently expressed concern over the growing cooperation between PIJ and Fatah armed groups in the northern West Bank. The officials revealed that many Fatah gunmen were currently on the payroll of Iran and its Palestinian proxies, including PIJ and Hamas.
Nakhaleh said the Jenin Battalion was “distinguished,” although many of its leaders were killed or imprisoned by Israeli security forces over the past few months. The group has claimed responsibility for a series of shooting attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians.
'Islamic Jihad responsible for terror groups formed across West Bank'
“Other armed groups have been formed in all the Palestinian cities, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad was responsible for this,” Nakhaleh said. “This does not mean that there aren’t fighters from Hamas and other factions. I also say that we have benefited from opening up to the bases of Fatah. Among the bases of Fatah, there are influential segments that oppose a settlement [with Israel] and the Palestinian Authority.
"We decided to open up to these segments and provide them with aid. The arming of these [Fatah] groups helped expand the resistance [against Israel].”
"The arming of these [Fatah] groups helped expand the resistance [against Israel]"PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhaleh
Nakhaleh pointed out that some of these groups belong to the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah. “A few days ago, two members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad were martyred; they had with them one from the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades,” he said. “This makes you gain a wider popular base, especially among the youths.”
Palestinians’ relations with Iran developing, PIJ leader says
He said that PIJ was also making its expertise in manufacturing explosive devices available to other groups. “We provide large and continuous [financial] assistance to the fighters in the field,” Nakhaleh disclosed. “We also follow up and provide field expertise in the process of manufacturing explosives.”
He said that his organization was working on instructions from Iran to increase terror attacks in the West Bank. He said that during his recent visit to Iran, he heard from Iranian leaders about the need to “arm the West Bank and develop the resistance there.”
According to Nakhaleh, the Palestinians’ relations with Iran have developed to a point where they gained experience in manufacturing weapons that are used against Israel.
“With the exception of machine guns, missiles, anti-tank weapons and explosives are manufactured locally,” he said. “Undoubtedly, we acknowledge that the Islamic Republic has provided assistance to the Palestinian resistance, including expertise, training and economic aid. There is also humanitarian aid to the families of the martyrs and the families of the prisoners.”