The Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP) was founded on February 22, 1969, when it split from the PFLP, changing its name shortly thereafter to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Since its inception it has been led by Naif Hawatmeh . The DFLP, which belongs to the PLO, initially had a radical Marxist-Leninist ideology and cooperated with other radical left-wing organizations (some of them underground). It supports armed insurrection against Israel and began its terrorist activities in 1973. Since the terrorists were expelled from Lebanon (1982) its position has become somewhat more pragmatic and usually similar to that of Fatah.
Hawatmeh and other senior members of the DFLP are based in Syria, but the organization has senior political figures in the PA-administered territories and maintains a small operational-terrorist wing in the Gaza Strip.
During the current violent confrontation, the DFLP has confined its activities to a small number of terrorist attacks in the Gaza Strip, but has participated in various internal Palestinian dialogues. Its most prominent terrorist attacks against Israel include:
- Terrorist attack on the northern border town of Ma'alot (May 15, 1974); 25 Israeli civilians murdered, many of them children.
- Attack on a private home in the town of Beit Shean (November 19, 1974); 4 Israeli civilians murdered.
- A wagon rigged with a bomb which exploded in Jerusalem (November 13, 1975); 7 Israeli civilians murdered.